review for Crimes and Misdemeanors on AllMovie

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
by Rebecca Flint Marx review

One of Woody Allen's most serious dramatic comedies, Crimes and Misdemeanors invoked comparisons to Hannah and Her Sisters, which Allen had made three years earlier. Similar to Hannah in its novel-like scope, interweaving stories, and rich ensemble acting, Crimes took the previous film's moral and ethical issues one step further: whereas Hannah was primarily concerned with love and loss, Crimes presented questions about the very meaning of human existence. Unabashedly philosophical, Allen's film was also one of his darkest, powered by a relentless pessimism, evocative of Allen's heroes Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and Anton Chekhov, coming to rest at the conclusion that true love will go unrewarded and the bad will go unpunished. It is a mark of Allen's strength as a director and storyteller that, despite such pessimism, Crimes managed to be a surprisingly funny film, a masterful demonstration of Allen's ability to weave together high comedy and sober drama. An ambitious project that Allen helmed with remarkable self-assurance, Crimes and Misdemeanors further established him as one of the cinema's most reliably cerebral directors.