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When Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Judy Davis) opt for an amicable split after 10 years of marriage, it comes as a complete shock to their closest friends, author Gabe Roth (Woody Allen) and wife Judy (Mia Farrow). Jack has the hots for loose-limbed aerobics instructor Sam (Lysette Anthony), while Judy fixes Sally up with handsome editor Michael (Liam Neeson), who Judy fancies herself. The travails of Jack and Sally trigger a chain-reaction and soon, Gabe and Judy are hurtling down the same path to unholy un-wedlock…due, in large part, to Gabe’s infatuation with a bright young student (Juliette Lewis) in his creative-writing class. 

Review by Keith Lofthouse:
This perceptive and bitterly amusing contemplation on the fickle nature of love, lust and fidelity in marriage won predictable notoriety as the Allen - Farrow film that reflected, with astounding symmetry, the real-life scandal of Allen’s romance with the long-time couple’s adopted 21-year-old Korean daughter. “It’s all over, and we both know it,” Judy (Farrow) tells Gabe (Allen) in a profound closure that proved especially prophetic due to Allen showcasing a cinema verité style which stamps the film with a documentary seal. A hand-held camera, twirls and whirls around a quartet of emotionally unsettled middle-class New Yorkers and the effect is intimate, intrusive and…downright dizzying at times. When the camera ceases with its nauseous swirling, the characters face a faceless inquisitor in a series of static but telling téte a tétes in which the very question of marriage is reasoned, debated, dissected and testified. 

It is Woody Allen as his bleakest (some say his best since Hannah And Her Sisters) as Gabe and Judy are shaken out of their comfort zone with sudden wonders about whether their relationship is riddled with secrets, lies or peccadilloes and why haven’t they produced a child? The performances are immaculate: most notably, the Oscar nominated Davis, as the blazingly intense and hyper-critical Sally, who finds fault in an otherwise divine dinner by quibbling about the sauce, or the tempo of a superb Mahler symphony and who picks on minor flaws in most other things. No husband would ever come close to being a perfect match for her: least of all Jack, who Pollock reveals as sublimely human, a clumsy philanderer groping for his “right to be happy” with a “cocktail waitress” whose only concept of real life is configured on the whims of a horoscope. 

For Allen and Farrow, this was their “unlucky 13th” collaboration, and last. In the film, Judy’s ex-husband describes her as “passive / aggressive” and she indeed proves herself as a chirpy little chick, with claws. Here, Allen provides a voyeur’s insight into what might have gone wrong in their tumultuous past; devastatingly so with his attraction to Rain, a 21-year-old student who has a pattern of involvement with older men. In the disintegration of any relationship there are, of course, two sides to any story, but Allen, who has always laid bare his befuddlement over why people are what people are, needs four sides to disseminate his own inner conflict. 

What emerges is a twisted rectangle of anxiety and emotions which, by design and intellect should be laid out in a broadsheet, but through circumstance and coincidence became the love child of the tabloids.

Published October 23, 2003

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(US) - 1992

CAST: Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow

DIRECTOR: Woody Allen

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen (1:85/1/16:9 enhanced); Language options – English (mono); French (mono); German (mono); Italian (mono); Spanish (mono)

SPECIAL FEATURES: trailer, bonus trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: October 15, 2003

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