Crimes and Misdemeanors Image
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 33 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: The film's title indicates the themes of two separate stories: 1) a renowned opthalmologist is desperate to cut off an adulterous relationship...which ends up in murder; and 2) an ethically frustrated documentary filmmaker woos an attractive television producer while making a film about her insufferably self-centered boss. (MGM) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. Mr. Allen's most securely serious and funny film to date.
  2. 100
    In the world of this film, conventional piety is overturned and we see into the soul of a human monster.
  3. 100
    In this risky, riveting film, our most prolific and provocative moviemaker uses his wit to touch a nerve. Crimes and Misdemeansors is so funny it hurts.
  4. It is his best and most courageous work to date. [13 Nov 1989, p. 22]
  5. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    70
    Fine ensemble acting (Alda and Huston are outstanding), evocative composition and design, intelligent writing, and spritely musical score.
  6. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    70
    Alda is perfect casting as a successful TV comedy producer, whose pompous attitude and easy romantic victories with women (including Farrow) exasperate Allen.
  7. None of the characters or ideas is allowed to develop beyond its cardboard profile.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 2 out of 10
  1. j30
    Nov 9, 2011
    10
    A fantastic film that's not your typical Hollywood movie. This movie gets me pumped on movies again. A really dark comedy and one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. Expand
  2. JMH
    May 7, 2012
    10
    Woody Allen's probing Crimes and Misdemeanors tells two stories that turn on a single question: What do you see when you look in the mirror? One tale is a drama centered on Judah (Martin Landau), a successful ophthalmologist who ends an affair by having his mistress (Anjelica Huston) killed. The other tale is a farce centered on Cliff (Allen), a struggling documentary filmmaker, his brother-in-law Lester (Alan Alda), and Lester's colleague Halley (Mia Farrow). Lester's an acclaimed TV producer. To please his sister (Joanna Gleason), he allows her husband Cliff to film a documentary about him. The stage is set for Judah and Lester to confront unflattering, even damning, portraits of themselves. Judah's self-confrontation is direct. When told the murder plot's a done deal, Judah enters his bathroom, looks at himself, washes his face, and looks at himself again. Can he come to terms with what he's done? Lester's self-confrontation comes via Cliff's documentary, a mocking portrayal wholly at odds with how Lester sees himself. Is this cause for Lester to reflect on the man he is? Guiding us through the two men's journeys are a rabbi (Sam Waterston) and patient of Judah's quickly losing his sight, and a philosopher who's a pet documentary subject of Cliff's. The former appeals to redemption via faith, and the latter to redemption via humanistic reason. Both are hopeful men who see inherent good in human nature. Yet the film's events pointedly ask whether their optimism's well-founded, and ultimately whether the answer even matters. Crimes and Misdemeanors is plainly a morality play - one that might have fallen flat in lesser hands. In Allen's hands, the overlaying morality play is told with a blend of gripping drama and trademark Allen humor, resting on a screenplay so taut and sophisticated that the rest of the film falls into place effortlessly. The result is a brilliant, engrossing film - one of Allen's very best. Expand
  3. Aug 27, 2011
    9
    Not only has Allen finally learned that he can make a drama with his own style, and not imitating one of his idols, he can also ask philosophical questions without seeming pretentious. Crimes and Misdemeanors holds his grip on drama, while never losing itself, due to the split narrative between Landau's drama, and Allen's dark comedy. Expand
  4. Aug 30, 2013
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Another Woody Allen delight, a diptych of two moral conundrums, Laudau, a well-off ophthalmologist who ultimately gets away with the murder of his badgering mistress (Huston), meanwhile a frustrated documentary filmmaker (Allen) flunks to win his love interest (Farrow) over a pretentious showbiz magnate (Alda).

    For Laudau’s story, one can easily sniff out the comparability of Allen’s later London-based MATCH POINT (2005, 7/10), the other women are merely dispensable in favor of wealth, social status and ostensibly stable matrimony. In this film, its main concern is the struggle within, the general moral conscience Vs. the guilt or the sin, and out of left field, it is the latter eventually prevails, with the trappings of a comfortable life, the murder becomes a petty snippet in his memory and time can put everything back into an equilibrium, it is beyond any religion’s absolution. Landau delivers one of his best performances in his lengthy career, an outright leading role (again, shamefully the category fraud push him into supporting group in the Oscar race), a hypocrite sleekly justifies his selfish and heinous behaviors with superfluous paddings, a despicable person so full of life with mocking caricature and a tint of self-reflection, everyone has his or her own unsurmountable hurdle in reality, luckily the preponderance is able to rein the yardstick. Anjelica Huston breaks her lofty stereotype, to overplay an unreasonable mistress who is too desperate to shore up her wanting sense of security, as vexing and halfwitted as she is, her denouement is too much a punishment.

    As for Allen’s romantic entwinement with Farrow and his doomed marriage, it brims with casual wisecracks and addicted cinema-goings, but the scene-stealer is Alda, whose character is blatantly based on the late writer Larry Gelbart, utters bon mots like, comedy is tragedy plus time; or if it bends, it's funny, if it breaks, it isn’t. He is snobbish and lewd to everyone’s eyes, yet he walks off with Allen’s soul mate. Woody Allen is rehashing the same old self, and Mia Farrow refrains herself as an out-of-his-league dame, who speaks highly about her unrealized ambition in order to reject a man trapped in a dead wedlock, yet subservient to the mogul’s courtship, it all boils down to the point of a woman’s self-deceptive blindness towards material needs, with a collateral damage to her unsuccessful suitor. So in both stories, the female characters are less glamorous and adorable here, not to mention Allen’s sister’s icky sex encounter in the bedroom.

    The film is mostly brisk under the accompany of a jazzy score, and its debate on moral structure is a cogent one and could be a reference to all the contemporary marital or relationship mishaps, even the religious mumble-jumble has an epiphany on those non-believers.
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  5. Apr 13, 2014
    3
    I could never really get into this one. There are a lot of philosophical questions being discussed, largely of the ethical nature, but it just felt really pointless to me. Maybe that was the point, I'm not sure, but regardless, it never really grabbed me. At the end of the day, I just saw two pointless stories being told for some unknown reason and totally lacking in interest. One story was somewhat interesting, the one concerning Martin Landau's character. There was plenty of depth there and it really does save this movie as we see him grappling with the decisions he had made. On the other hand, the story concerning Woody Allen's character is annoying and a waste of time. It felt like they did not feel they had enough with the other story and tacked this on for no reason. Really, all we see is a man who is wrapped up in his hatred of this other guy and let's it get to annoying heights. Luckily, there are occasional moments of comedy that help bolster this one up a bit as well or else the rating would be far lower. I really do not understand the praise for this one. Expand

See all 10 User Reviews