A review of Woody Allen’s 1989 flim Crimes and Misdemeanors, I watched it on 123Movie.
Woody Allen is considered by many to be a comedic genius, but you wouldn’t know it from seeing his 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors. That’s not to say that the movie is a bad comedy. It isn’t a comedy at all. Oh, there are some jokes in it, delivered almost solely from Woody Allen’s character, as even in what is perhaps his darkest film he couldn’t resist casting himself as a joker, but the overall mood of the film is certainly of the dramatic variety.
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The film has two parallel stories going on which only intersect sporadically. In one story, Martin Landau plays Judah Rosenthal, a successful and married ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, when his long time mistress, played by Anjelica Huston, starts to unravel emotionally, she threatens to blow up his happy life.
In the other story, Woody Allen’s Cliff Stern is asked by her wife’s brother Lester, an obnoxious, pompous television producer, to produce a documentary about him, even though the two can’t stand one another. The work makes Cliff unhappy, as does his marriage, but in his work he meets a producer named Halley Reed, played by Mia Farrow, and falls for her.
Judah takes actions to solve his situation that start to gnaw at him. Cliff tries to woo Halley while dealing with all the issues around him. Despite some good performances, it all seems to serve mostly to push talk of philosophy and religion and what have you. Unfortunately, it is all quite heavy handed to the point of getting tedious. Everything is spelled out for the viewer, even the things that are obvious and apparent.
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It would seem Allen thought nobody had ever realized that sometimes bad things happen to good people, or that sometimes people get away with terrible actions.
As such, you may not be surprised to find out the movie is a bleak, ham fisted, and occasionally unpleasant mess. Movies don’t all have to be uplifting or have a happy ending to be good. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood are both great movies. This is because they were more concerned with storytelling and creating a dynamic work of cinema than with hitting the audience over the head with their themes.
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Perhaps Allen shouldn’t have strayed so far from comedy. Crimes and Misdemeanors still manages to be a decent movie, but it is a lesser work than even most of his not highly thought of comedies.