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Husbands and Wives

Caught in a storm of tabloid coverage upon its theatrical release, Husbands and Wives (1992) may be forever linked with the sensational dissolution of Allen's relationship with longtime companion and muse Mia Farrow, but the film is, nevertheless, Allen's most wrenching movie, and also one of his greatest. In terms of ill-advised matchmakings and love triangles, Husbands and Wives is worthy of company with Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night, and in the spectrum of Allen's career Husbands and Wives is as funny as any of his post-Annie Hall output, and yet every laugh comes from a deep, aching place of pain. The cast — Allen, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Sydney Pollack, Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson, Blythe Danner — is one of Allen's strongest, particularly Davis' tour de force of comic rage and fear, Pollack's powerful impotence, and Lewis, whose showstopping scene in the back of a taxi is one the best Allen's ever written or directed. Husbands and Wives also signaled a drastic turn in Allen's visual style, employing a shaky, immediate verité approach capturing the dizzying disorientation and emotional fracturing of personal failure. An incredible film from a master working at his peak. As usual for Woody Allen's films on DVD, Columbia TriStar's disc is bare-bones, with a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from intentionally grainy source material (a full-frame transfer is also included), while audio is a digitally mastered monaural track. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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