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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Arts Recommends 11/04/11

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

Film: ‘Husbands and Wives’

When people discuss Woody Allen, they tend to classify his films into two categories: funny Woody and serious Woody. “Husbands and Wives,” his 1992 effort, falls somewhere in between, its dramatic confrontations punctuated by moments of the bitterest humor.

Gabe (Allen) and Judy (Mia Farrow) have been happily married for years until their friends Jack (Sydney Pollack) and Sally (Judy Davis) unexpectedly announce their separation. Suddenly, Gabe and Judy begin questioning their own marriage, which quickly begins to disintegrate as they examine its foundation.

Although “Husbands and Wives” received plenty of attention for its backstory—Allen’s relationship with Farrow ended during production after she found out he had feelings for her adopted daughter—it also stands on its own as one of Allen’s best works.

Allen and Farrow turn in some of their most brittle, affecting performances as characters you don’t necessarily like, yet intuitively understand. Davis, however, is the standout as temperamental Sally, full of anger and vitriol and a deep, violent need to be loved.

—Sean Fabery, Editor

Book: ‘Revolutionary Road’ by Richard Yates

A plot synopsis of Richard Yates’ 1961 novel “Revolutionary Road” reads like a summary of seemingly every book published in the 1960s and ’70s in that it chronicles the dissolution of a suburban marriage anchored in a false belief in the American Dream as savior.

April and Frank Wheeler have been married nearly 10 years and they’ve fallen into something of a conformist rut. April chases the ghost of her dying acting career, while Frank daydreams about his days as a soldier in Europe. A plan to move to Paris brings them closer again, but this dream—and the possibility of it not coming to fruition—only irreparably damages their marriage.

“Revolutionary Road” is a deeply affecting novel; as Yates himself once noted, it’s about how “most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy.” Critics praised Yates’ work but it went largely unread during his own lifetime; thankfully, that’s changed this last decade. If you saw the 2008 Kate Winslet/Leonardo DiCaprio adaptation and hated it, take heart: That film failed to capture just how rich and sad the inner lives of these characters are, as well as the humor ingrained deep within that hopelessness.

—Sean Fabery, Editor