“Millions of books written on every conceivable subject by all these great minds, and in the end none of them knows anything more about the big questions of life than I do.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
(As in his review for The Purple Rose of Cairo, Peary’s overview of HAHS oddly contains quite a few spoilers, so I’ll refrain from quoting more specifics here about the narrative arc.)
Peary points out that “Wiest, Farrow, and von Sydow stand out in the wonderful cast” (I agree); however, he notes that he wishes “all the characters were a bit more developed” — though it’s difficult to see how this might even be possible, given the limitations of such an abundantly cast, intricately overlapping script. Indeed, there are so many narrative threads interwoven across HAHS that one wonders at first how Allen will balance it all — yet everything eventually comes together, with all the characters’ lives intersecting in decidedly “incestuous” ways (perhaps no great surprise). Peary concludes his review by stating that “having Mickey [Allen] convert to Catholicism, although funny, is overdoing it a bit”, but I disagree; several of the script’s laugh-out-loud visual gags come courtesy of this narrative jaunt (which feels entirely realistic, given the character’s literal soul-searching).
Note: It’s interesting to learn how much of HAHS was apparently inspired by Farrow’s own life (the film was shot largely in her NY apartment, included several of her actual children, and cast her real-life mother — Maureen O’Sullivan — as her on-screen mother). Being involved with Woody Allen to any extent seems like a guaranteed ticket to creative “exploitation”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)