One of the many reasons the film works so beautifully is the seamless way Allen intertwines the related, (but independent to a degree) arcs of each main character. Along the way, Allen juggles flashbacks, multiple voiceovers, and a large ensemble cast to convey the tumult below one family’s calm surface. Hannah (Mia Farrow) is the most selfless, understanding, and charitable member of the family. So self-sufficient is Hannah that she barely recognizes the growing disinterest of her husband Elliot (Michael Caine). Elliot has set his sights on Hannah’s sister Lee (Barbara Hershey), whom he showers with small gifts such as books of e.e. cummings poetry. But even if she wasn’t his wife’s sister, Lee is off the market.
While the three sisters and their relationships provide more than enough to fill the film’s 106 minute running time (longish for Allen), a few wild cards are tossed in. A surprisingly disturbing subplot emerges involving the background of Hannah and her sisters’ retired showbiz parents, Norma (Maureen O’Sullivan) and Lloyd Nolan (Evan). Their charming demeanor at holiday gatherings masks deep resentments between the bitterly unhappy couple. Then there’s Hannah’s first husband, Mickey (Allen).
There’s not much to note about the audio/visual presentation on MGM’s Blu-ray, other than the fact that this is, in fact, a marked improvement over the previous DVD (which was, at least, anamorphically-enhanced—strangely enough, not all of them were). Whereas the DVD offered an excessively noisy, dingy looking transfer, the Blu-ray is far less so. Film grain hasn’t been scrubbed away, thankfully, but the cheesecloth layer of grime that marred the DVD has been. The DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono soundtrack allows us to focus on the dialogue, which is delivered with the clarity expected of a lossless track.