At some point during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I will again honor a long-standing tradition and steal a couple of hours away from the rituals of family, food and football to wallow in the pleasures of Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. It is, in my mind, the perfect film for Thanksgiving, with a surprising sweetness and warmth protruding from beneath the multiple layers of angst, anxiety and cynicism that are the director’s staples.
“Hannah and Her Sisters long ago became my Thanksgiving addition to the films that must be enjoyed annually during the November-December holiday season. My personal list always includes Miracle On 34th Street (the 1947 original, of course, with Edmund Gwenn forever embodying Kris Kringle), two well-aged musicals in White Christmas and Holiday Inn, and the lesser known, but delightful All I Want For Christmas, which features a very young Thora Birch and the forever young Lauren Bacall.
You’ll note my line-up doesn’t include It’s A Wonderful Life, which I only catch sporadically since I’ve always found it a bit manipulative. But if it warms the cockles of your heart during the holidays, add it to the stack.
However, for Thanksgiving, there is only Hannah and Her Sisters, a film in which Allen skillfully mines his favorite themes: love, sex, relationships, infidelity, mortality, religion, culture and the meaning of life. Yet, this one also has a creamy center since, beneath it all, this is a true romantic comedy, with a heart and soul that fit precisely into that certain longing that infects most of us around the holidays. And in today’s world, its warmth, escape and comic relief are needed more than ever. Continue reading