Monday, 21 March 2005

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) - ickleReview (video)

Woody Allen melodrama, with, of course, a sprinkling of comedy. A philanthropic optician (opthamologist; Martin Landau) has an affair with a neurotic (Anjelica Huston), who, after two years of deceit, wants to confront his wife (Claire Bloom). Meanwhile, a failing documentary filmmaker (Woody Allen) can't stand his successful TV producing brother-in-law (Alan Alda), who commissions him to make his biography, in which he spouts off his wise theories: that New York is a series of straight lines waiting for a punchline; or that "Comedy is tragedy plus time". The Woody Allen character of course falls in love with another TV producer (Mia Farrow), for whom he leaves his wife.

A well balanced script, with moments where Allen breaks the ice with his customary wisecracks: when Halley (Farrow) returns a love letter, saying it was the most beautiful thing she's read but that it just wasn't right, he retorts: "It's probably just as well. I plagiarized most of it from James Joyce. You probably wondered why all the references to Dublin." These moments of laughter are heightened by the serious story with which you can really get involved. It is from this vein that Allen's most recently released movie, Melinda and Melinda, has been drawn.

Nugget: the highlight? When Allen says, "Last time I was inside a woman was when I visited the Statue of Liberty."


  1. Crimes and Misdemeanors is a good companion to Match Point: it's as if Match Point is a British remake of the earlier film; or at least a return to the same issues and situations. Having seen both films for the second time round on consecutive days, I still think Crimes and Misdemeanors is the more successful of the two. It deals with the aftermath of killing (or having killed) the second woman in an adulterous triangle, who threatens to tell the wife of the affair. There is a good balance between the Alan Alda and Martin Landau characters, Lester and Judah: both successful men; one an optimist (Alda/Lester), the other a pessimist (Landau/Judah). This optimist/pessimist duality is mirrored in Chloe and Chris's relationship in Match Point (Chloe being happy with her lot in life; Chris more suspicious). Chris and Judah both kill their lovers when they realize they could ruin the comfortable life, which - up until its threatened dissolution - they have not fully appreciated.

    Why is the earlier film more successful? It's more firmly in Allen's comic mode, not taking itself too seriously. The ghost scene in Match Point is a little jarring with the rest of the tone; and Chris's desperately incompetent murders border on farce.

  2. Yip, definitely worth watching alongside "Match Point".