"Hannah and Her Sisters" marked a triumphant return to form - once again on the streets of Manhattan Woody Allen was back with another masterpiece.
The plot follows the overlapping stories of three sisters as they drift in and out of each other's lives with increasingly disastrous consequences. The youngest (Hershey) lives with her spiritual guru (Von Sydow), a witty intellectual recluse bitterly disillusioned with modern life. The middle sister (Wiest) is a frantically neurotic girl-about-town chasing her own tail in a desperate attempt to find both the money and the break to make her career. The eldest (Farrow) is an apparently stable mother married to the wealthy Elliot (Caine) and reigning over a warm nuclear family.
This being a Woody Allen film, no relationship is ever straightforward, and as the film slowly progresses the layers of illusion are lifted off to display the emotional fragility, betrayal, and tragedy underneath. Wandering between the developing stories is Allen in his traditional neurotic role. When a medical crisis threatens, he explores all the major religions before settling on the Marx Brothers as a reason for living.
Many critics have compared this literate, almost theatrical film to the plays of Anton Chekhov. A complex and sensitive philosophical drama, it modernised the family saga - a theme he would return to in later films such as "Husbands and Wives". Unusually for Allen there is a profoundly old-fashioned, almost moral message behind the film and the themes of love, fidelity, hope, and the fragility of happiness underpin the drama.
"Hannah and Her Sisters" is on ITV at 12.45am, the early hours of Sunday 4th February 2001.