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  • 2 Theatrical trailer - Husbands and Wives, Manhattan Murder Mystery

Husbands and Wives

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . M15+ . PAL


I wonder if someone from New York City would find the neuroses of someone from, say... well, Say City, Bekpetistan, funny?

Apparently not, because few films are based there.

In this one of the thousands of films Woody Allen has made in his long career, he concentrates on the weirdness brought about by marriage and the ripple effect it has on others. While performances are fairly even throughout and the characters have been rather well drawn, the film is a little long-winded and drawn out, saying a lot where a little would have sufficed. Not always being a Woody Allen fan, and finding behavioural disorders not so funny, Iíve had a lot of trouble entering into his school of thought. However, I did find certain threads of this movie interesting with some valid points to make about marriage and love in general.

I wonít go deeply into the complexities of this story, but to say that we follow the lives of two couples and their varying misadventures. Our first couple begins by breaking up, while our other couple begins questioning their own relationship due to this breakup. In time more facts arise that complicate matters and before you know it situations are reversing everywhere we go.

Not among Woodyís better works, this still has its moments of cheer, though I was hard pressed to squeeze out a single laugh. Maybe I donít find marriage problems funny, I dunno. However, fans of this very popular filmmaker will no doubt find a range of emotions to enjoy here.


Told in a sort of faux documentary format, with interviews about the storyís events taking place at random moments, the film jumps across genres a little clumsily. For the most part these interludes provide a spot of relief from watching the film, but then you realise they are a part of the film and are giving us further information. In sticking with the doco format, there are numerous hand-held camera shots and long, long takes that give an authenticity to the drama being played out. This shows some real cleverness from the actors, particularly in complex choreographed movements around a tightly spaced apartment or bungalow or party.

There are some early jitters in the opening titles and these occur occasionally throughout as well, though it could just be the hand-held cameraís movements. More than a little grainy at times, the picture is off-sharp by a few degrees, and while not soft edged, it makes the film look older than its 11 years should look. Colours are rather washed out being mostly in earthy tones with little garishness to play with and blacks being true to life. Shadow detail isnít the best and in the numerous night scenes we get some extra grain and such. There is also a bizarre compression negative at 1:30:02 and while granted itís during a thunderstorm lightning strike, it still looks unlike it was probably intended to look. A fairly average transfer at best here.


Well, Dolby Digital stereo is the audio duíjour here and being a dialogue-driven vehicle, this is adequate for the filmís intentions. The sound effects are all okay, particularly during the aforementioned thunderstorm, though there is little else of exceptional note.

Music comes along but rarely and when it does itís in the form of older wartime tracks that do suit the mood nicely. However, this is a purely practical sound mix and doesnít warrant any letters home.


Two trailers for Woody Allen features are all we get and these are for this very film, Husbands and Wives, and the much better film Manhattan Murder Mystery. Both are unfortunately in 4:3 and come in under two minutes each.


No doubt fans of Woody Allenís work will require this DVD to fill out their collections, but for anyone else, this comparatively lacklustre Allen effort isnít much worth the effort. Noteable performances hold the film up to a degree, however, particularly from Judy Davis in what is arguably the lead role, with worthy portrayals coming in from Woody himself, Mia Farrow and Liam Neeson.

Completists no doubt already have it, but Iím sure even theyíve watched other, better, Woody Allen vehicles.

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      And I quote...
    "Not one of Woody Allenís better films, and certainly not one of the better DVD transfers ever seen."
    - Jules Faber
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