Husbands and Wives
|Husbands and Wives|
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Produced by||Robert Greenhut|
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Cinematography||Carlo Di Palma|
|Edited by||Susan E. Morse|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Budget||$20 million (estimate)|
|Box office||$10.6 million|
Husbands and Wives is a 1992 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen. The film stars Allen, Mia Farrow, Sydney Pollack, Judy Davis, Lysette Anthony, Juliette Lewis, Liam Neeson and Blythe Danner. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actress (Judy Davis) and Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen). The film debuted shortly after the end of Allen and Farrow’s romantic and professional partnership, and was the last of their 13 films together. The movie is filmed by Carlo Di Palma with a handheld camera style and features documentary-like interviews with the characters interspersed with the story.
Husbands and Wives, released by TriStar Pictures, was Allen’s first film as sole director for a studio other than United Artists or Orion Pictures (both now part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) since Take the Money and Run (1969). It received positive reviews and is sometimes listed among Allen’s best works.
The film is about two couples: Jack (Pollack) and Sally (Davis), and Gabe (Allen) and Judy (Farrow). The film starts when Jack and Sally arrive at Gabe and Judy’s apartment and announce their separation. Gabe is shocked, but Judy takes the news personally and is very hurt. Still confused, they go out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
A few weeks later Sally goes to the apartment of a colleague. They plan to go out together to the opera and then to dinner. Sally asks if she can use his phone, and calls Jack. Learning from him that he has met someone, she accuses him of having had an affair during their marriage.
Judy and Gabe are introduced to Jack’s new girlfriend, Sam, an aerobics trainer. While Judy and Sam shop, Gabe calls Jack’s new girlfriend a “cocktail waitress” and tells him that he is crazy for leaving Sally for her. About a week later, Judy introduces Sally to Michael (Neeson), Judy’s magazine colleague who she clearly is interested in herself. Michael asks Sally out, and they begin dating; Michael is smitten, but Sally is dissatisfied with the relationship.
Meanwhile, Gabe has developed a friendship with a young student of his, Rain, and has her read the manuscript of his novel. She comments on its brilliance, but has several criticisms, to which Gabe reacts defensively.
At a party, Jack learns from a friend that Sally is seeing someone, and flies into a jealous rage. He and Sam break up after an intense argument, and Jack drives back to his house to find Sally in bed with Michael. He asks Sally to give their marriage another chance, but she tells him to leave.
Less than two weeks later, however, Jack and Sally are back together and the couple meet Judy and Gabe for dinner like old times. After dinner, Judy and Gabe get into an argument about her not sharing her poetry. After Gabe makes a failed pass at her, Judy tells him she thinks the relationship is over; a week later Gabe moves out. Judy begins seeing Michael.
Gabe goes to Rain’s 21st birthday party, and gives her a music box as a present. She asks him to kiss her, and though the two share a romantic moment, Gabe tells her they should not pursue it any further. As he walks home in the rain, he realizes that he has ruined his relationship with Judy.
Michael tells Judy he needs time alone, then says he can’t help still having feelings for Sally. Angry and hurt, Judy walks out into the rain. Highlighting her “passive aggressiveness,” Michael follows and begs her to stay with him. A year and a half later they marry.
At the end, the audience sees a pensive Jack and Sally back together. Jack and Sally admit their marital problems still exist (her frigidity is not solved), but they find they accept their problems as simply the price they have to pay to remain together.
Gabe is living alone because he says he is not dating for the time being, as he does not want to hurt anyone. The film ends with an immediate cut to black after Gabe asks the unseen documentary crew, “Can I go? Is this over?”
The cast includes (in credits order):
- Woody Allen as Gabe Roth
- Mia Farrow as Judy Roth
- Judy Davis as Sally Simmons
- Sydney Pollack as Jack Simmons
- Juliette Lewis as Rain
- Liam Neeson as Michael Gates
- Lysette Anthony as Sam
- Cristi Conaway as Shawn Grainger, call girl
- Timothy Jerome as Paul, Sally’s date
- Ron Rifkin as Richard, Rain’s analyst
- Bruce Jay Friedman as Peter Styles
- Jeffrey Kurland as interviewer-narrator (voice)
- Benno Schmidt as Judy’s ex-husband
- Nick Metropolis as TV scientist
- Rebecca Glenn as Gail
- Galaxy Craze as Harriet
- John Doumanian as Hamptons’ party guest
- Gordon Rigsby as Hamptons’ party guest
- Ilene Blackman as Receptionist
- Blythe Danner as Rain’s mother
- Brian McConnachie as Rain’s father
- Ron August as Rain’s ex lover
- John Bucher as Rain’s ex lover
- Matthew Flint as Carl, Rain’s Boyfriend
Husbands and Wives opened on September 18, 1992 in 865 theatres, where it earned $3,520,550 ($4,070 per screen) in its opening weekend. It went on to gross $10.5 million in North America during its theatrical run. The film was also screened at the 1992 Toronto Festival of Festivals.
Husbands and Wives opened to acclaim from film critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 40 reviews, with an average score of 8.2/10.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it “a defining film for these emotionally embattled times; it’s classic Woody Allen.” Todd McCarthy of Variety similarly praised the film as “a full meal, as it deals with the things of life with intelligence, truthful drama and rueful humor.”
Vincent Canby of The New York Times called it a “a very fine, sometimes brutal comedy about a small group of contemporary New Yorkers, each an edgy, self-analyzing achiever who goes through life without much joy, but who finds a certain number of cracked satisfactions along the way.” He added, “‘Husbands and Wives’ — the entire Allen canon, for that matter — represents a kind of personal cinema for which there is no precedent in modern American movies. Even our best directors are herd animals. Mr. Allen is a rogue: he travels alone.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times opined, “… what ‘Husbands and Wives’ argues is that many ‘rational’ relationships are actually not as durable as they seem, because somewhere inside every person is a child crying me! me! me! We say we want the other person to be happy. What we mean is, we want them to be happy with us, just as we are, on our terms.”
In 2016, Time Out contributors ranked Husbands and Wives fifth among Allen’s efforts, with Keith Uhlich praising the work’s “trenchant examination of long-term relationships on the downswing”. The same year, Robbie Collin and Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph listed Husbands and Wives as his seventh greatest film, calling it “a rapid marvel of four-way characterization” and praising the opening scene as “one of Allen’s most vividly written, shot and acted scenes ever”.
- “Husbands and Wives (1992)”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
- Canby, Vincent (September 18, 1992). “Husbands and Wives (1992) Review/Film — Husbands and Wives; Fact? Fiction? It Doesn’t Matter”. The New York Times.
- “Love and Fog”. Entertainment Weekly. 1992.
- “Scenes from Woody’s Marriage”. Entertainment Weekly. 1992.
- “Husbands and Wives (1992)”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
- Travers, Peter (September 18, 1992). “Husbands and Wives”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- McCarthy, Todd (August 26, 1992). “Review: ‘Husbands and Wives‘“. Variety. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- Canby, Vincent (September 18, 1992). “Review/Film — Husbands and Wives; Fact? Fiction? It Doesn’t Matter”. The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- Ebert, Roger (September 18, 1992). “Husbands and Wives”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- Editors, The (March 24, 2016). “The best Woody Allen movies of all time”. Time Out. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Collin, Robbie; Robey, Tim (October 12, 2016). “All 47 Woody Allen movies – ranked from worst to best”. The Guardian. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- “Husbands and Wives (1992)”. Swedish Film Institute. 22 March 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.