movie film review | chris tookey

Crimes And Misdemeanors / Crimes And Misdemeanours

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  Crimes And Misdemeanors  / Crimes And Misdemeanours Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
8.21 /10
Caroline Aaron, Alan Alda , Woody Allen
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Written by: Woody Allen

Released: 1989
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Length: 104


A successful opthalmologist (Martin Landau) tries to get rid of a mistress (Anjelica Huston); an unsuccessful filmmaker (Woody Allen) tries to attract one (Mia Farrow).

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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The most successful marriage of Allenís comic one-liners with his pessimistic world-view. The two, interlinked stories centre on one of the basic questions in life: why should we bother to behave morally in a universe where God may not exist, and where goodness is so rarely rewarded? Though dark in tone, the film has an ironic approach to the self-pity which has detracted from other serious Allen movies: itís highly entertaining, and contains some of Woody Allen's wittiest one-liners. It even leaves some room for cautious optimism. Allen suggests that a cold universe is at least warmed by our capacity to love, however inadequate this may be.
The central metaphor concerns sight: the murderous Judah (Martin Landau) is an ophthalmologist, constantly worrying that (in the words of his father) "the eyes of God are on us always". Judah's friend and patient, the rabbi (Sam Waterston), rebukes him for not viewing the world correctly: "You see it as harsh and empty of values". The two imperfect seekers after truth, Clifford and Halley (Allen and Farrow), both wear glasses. At the moment when Clifford finds that she has rejected him, she no longer wears them, evidently content to look elegant but to be short-sighted.
The other main theme of the film is a familiar one in the Woody Allen canon: the distance between movies and reality. Clifford is a fan of escapist pictures and doesn't like the ending of Crimes and Misdemeanors when Judah tells it to him as a possible plot. Clifford suggests that if the murderous adulterer turned himself in, instead of going free, this would add a tragic dimension. "If you want a happy ending, you should go see a Hollywood movie," snaps Judah.
Winner of the London Critics' Circle Award as Film of the Year.

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