Cultural Revolutions

A Charming Film

Husbands and wives is a slight but charming film, and, had it not been for the inability of the press to distinguish between life and art, it would have opened in the usual eight theaters to reviews that were mildlv favorable if not quite ecstatic. Husbands and Wives is not a Shadows and Fog disaster, but neither is it a Manhattan or a Stardust Memories triumph. A pleasing, rueful little picture, it suffers from several billion dollars worth of publicity, Woody and Mia having been on more magazine covers in recent months than Elvis, Bigfoot, Fergie, and Di combined. This small bijou is on eight hundred screens, where people will be watching it who don't recognize Benno Schmidt (he has a nice bit part to which he seems better suited than the presidency of Yale) and who can't spot Nora Ephron or Bruce Jay Friedman, who also appear. What they are all hut to see is the breakup, the exchange of nasty words between Mia and Woody that are true and real. As if fictions were false and the only reliable truths were those of correspondence. As if the headlines made clearer the rage, hurt, and self-mocking humor that Allen has been showing us in twenty pictures now.

I suppose there may be people who in museums get off on how ugly Picasso could make this or that wife or mistress in the paintings he did of them just before their separation. (And, indeed, Allen has never before let Farrow look...

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