Hannah and Her SistersRelease Date: January 15, 2013
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray keepcase
Running Time: 1:46:54
|THE FEATURE||SPECIAL FEATURES|
|Video||AVC: 1080p high definition 1.85:1||High definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, Spanish 1.0||Dolby Digital: English 2.0|
|Subtitles||English SDH, Spanish||None|
The Feature: 4.5/5If movie titles were changed to better reflect their stories, Woody Allen’s celebrated dramedy “Hannah and Her Sisters” would be “Hannah’s Sisters and Ex-Husband.” Yes, it makes for a horrible title, but it shows how the film actually spends most of its time with the sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest), and Hannah’s first husband Mickey (Allen), than on Hannah (Mia Farrow) herself. On examination, the actual title is a nod to how the character, a successful actress and seemingly happy wife and mother, tends to get all the respect and attention while her siblings struggle with life and love and can’t seem to catch a break. However the film’s actual focus illustrates it’s not the people who have it all together with the most compelling lessons to learn in life.
Taking up most of the threads of Allen’s interwoven narrative is an affair between Lee and Hannah’s husband Elliot (Michael Caine). He’s dissatisfied with his marriage because his wife doesn’t seem to need him; coupled with the overwhelming passion he feels for his sister-in-law, Elliot seems poised to end what seems like a perfect home and family life. But once the affair is underway, he finds the thought of leaving Hannah more difficult than expected. Meanwhile, Elliot’s sudden declaration of love has opened a window for Lee to escape a stifling relationship with the misanthropic artist Frederick (Max von Sydow), but Elliot’s ultimate ambivalence about moving forward with her shows she must make her own way in life rather than wait for things to come to her.
Holly’s issues by comparison are less dramatic, but no less central to her self-discovery. A recovering cocaine addict, she’s trying to get her life back together by pursuing an acting career, but is coming up short. Her partnership in a catering business with fellow actress friend April (Carrie Fisher) has promise, but it’s also about to get up-ended over their mutual interest in a handsome architect (Sam Waterston). Eventually, Holly turns her sights to writing for television, which in turn prepares her to become re-acquainted with ex-brother-in-law Mickey, a producer for a TV network who’s been going through his own existential crisis.
Not surprisingly, Mickey’s tale provides the most comic relief as Allen has his signature, neurotic hypochondriac come face-to-face with a legitimate health scare, and then go on a fruitless search for the meaning of life. Unexpected is the poignancy of Mickey’s eventual revelation, which comes to him after a botched suicide attempt. While some may be dissatisfied with what finally gives Mickey the reason to live, the fact it keeps him in the game to enjoy what life offers him in the next chapter is undeniably powerful.
And that ultimately epitomizes the subtle charm of Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Heavy life questions are approached and handled with such deftness, humor and sincerity that it renders its messages indelible. Coupled with strong performances all around – from Best Supporting Actor and Actress award winners Caine and Wiest, to Allen himself – and an assured and sophisticated directorial style, it's likely to remain one of Allen's most enduringly popular and accessible films.
Video Quality: 4/5Framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer features inky black levels and a full and uncompromised range of contrast. Color is richly saturated, though flesh tones can come off as a bit pinkish. Detail holds up from establishing shots to close ups, though heavier grain in more dimly lit environments, as well as occasional flecks of dirt and dust in the picture can affect fine rendering of things like hair and skin texture. Occasional flicker or flutter in the image can be mildly distracting, but otherwise the image exhibits no other transfer artifacts.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5Dialogue in 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp and detailed, though the characters’ internal monologues frequently sound too low compared to scenes involving multiple characters. The track does have an impressive breadth in its soundstage however, offering some subtle vocal placement that keeps it from being a strictly center channel experience.
Special Features: 1/5
Theatrical Trailer (1:36, HD)
Recap and RecommendationThe Film: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5
MGM Home Entertainment turns in a fine high definition presentation for “Hannah and Her Sisters,” Woody Allen’s humorously touching reflection on the meaning of life. The bonus material is limited to a lone theatrical trailer, but the merits of the feature make the release one to pick up for those who have never had the film in their collections. Those who own the previous DVD release, now over a decade old, should find it a worthwhile upgrade.