Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)


Comedy | Drama





Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda, Jerry Orbach, Joanna Gleason, Claire Boom, Sam Waterston, Caroline Aaron, Victor Argo, Daryl Hannah, Mercedes Ruehl


In two separate stories of adultery, a New York doctor (Martin Landau) resorts to desperate measures to cover up his long-term adulterous affair, and an unhappily married documentary filmmaker (Woody Allen) fights an adulterous temptation while making his latest documentary on a TV producer (Alan Alda).


I know, I know, there was no Allen last week, but let me make up for that with this wonderful piece of filmography that is always a pleasure to (re)watch

"Crimes and Misdemeanors" is a brilliant, fun and dramatic modern reinterpretation of Dostoevsky's "Crimes and Punishment" about decisions and life hovering between dramatic comedy and comic tragedy. 

This time Woody Allen is almost more pessimistic than usual - we'll see this pessimism about man later again in the brilliant "Match Point", another interpretation of "Crimes and Punishment" - and he spares us some neurosis only to replace them with rather deep insights. 

As previously mentioned, the film is also plenty of laughters, ludicrously hilarious moments, and Allen's usual memorable lines. 

The film's message is one and is crystal clear: the bad guys always win, and crime pays. There is no moral, and punishment - unlike in the book - is far from obvious. Also, religion - main theme of the film and of Allen's filmography - is not able to provide appropriate comfort. In this matter, it is very interesting the character of the Jewish philosopher upon which Allen's character wants to make a documentary: he is a man full of zest for life yet at the end of the film he commits suicide.

I loved the idea of introducing some scenes from classic films with the excuse of Cliff's cinematic fanaticism. 

In conclusion, this film is brilliantly written and directed, outstandingly acted and is an amazing achievement that everyone should watch. 

Mention-Worthy Quotes

Professor Levy: We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions. Moral choices. Some are on a grand scale. Most of these choices are on lesser points. But! We define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, human happiness does not seem to have been included, in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying, and even to find joy from simple things like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.

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