After Annie Hall, Woody Allen delved even further into the dramatic by getting rid of all humor whatsoever. To achieve this, he's even taken himself out of the picture and painted an internal, drab world of a single family.
The first two and a half minutes are silent, punctuated by the father's words: "I had dropped out of law school when I met Eve [his wife]." And thereafter, changes would be marked by a break of the film's rules. The first external shot occurs after the mother attempts suicide. The first person to wear any kind of color (and it's a bright red) is the father's new lover. And the first sound of music to be heard is after the father remarries. At the end of the movie, after the mother walks into the ocean, the film returns to the beginning. It is silent for almost five minutes, the scenes are indoors and everyone (even the father's new wife) is wearing black.
Woody Allen seems to be at a crossroads. He wants to change and challenge himself. You sense that he is speaking through his characters when they say things like, "These feelings of futility in relation to my work, I mean, just what am I striving to create anyway? To what end? For what purpose? What goal? " and, "I feel a real need to express something, but I don't know what it is I want to express. Or how to express it."
Unfortunately, I don't think this film is the answer. It tries too hard. It is over the top. Everyone is expressing exactly what they are thinking and feeling. Maybe it was cathartic for Allen to make the movie, but it was depressing to watch.