Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Woody Allen’s great, sweeping, intimate, moving comedy-drama about a sprawling, neurotic New York showbiz family, their failures, cross purposes, heartbreaks, and hilarious obsessions, all of it spanning two Thanksgiving Day celebrations. And the festivities are not entirely unlike your Thanksgivings, either—witness the spite, drinking, betrayal, boredom, speeches, chitchat, and bustle, all wrapped in a family’s unmistakable warmth. The film is segmented into brisk, poetically-titled chapters, scored with a mix of old show tunes and Puccini, and armed with brave performances (Oscar-winning and otherwise) from Allen, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow, Maureen O’Sullivan, and a sadly semi-Alzheimer-ish Lloyd Nolan. It’s one of those rare grown-up films—even from Allen—that summons a palpable sense of healing, joy, and resilience without for a moment pandering to the audience’s sentimental wishes or surrendering to its sometimes harrowing relationship with the real world. You can tell the Woodman was happy in the 1980s—the movie glows with affirmative energy.


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