Crimes and Misdemeanors is a 1989 from Woody Allen film that appears near the end of his fecund period of critical and commercial success which stretches from Annie Hall in 1977 to Sweet and Lowdown 22 years later. During that period Allen received Academy Award nominations for directing six times along with thirteen nominations for writing. He was nominated for both for Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The films also belongs to that category of Allen’s film that present such a balance between comedy and drama that though it fits into either category, it really belongs to neither. Along with Zelig, Crimes and Misdemeanors is also Woody Allen’s most directly philosophical film. The dual plots never intersect narratively until the very end of the movie, but thematically they are inextricably intertwined throughout. The philosophical starting point of the film traces back to ancient Greece and Plato’s dialogues. Specifically, the dialogue in which Glaucon recounts the story of the ring of invisibility as a means of examining the nature of the relationship that exists between morality, happiness and the fear of being punished.
With this in mind, it is important to note that the title of the film seems to reference not Plato, but Dostoyevsky’s take on the very same philosophical dilemma: Crime and Punishment. The difference in the title makes all the difference in the movie and, by extension, it makes all the difference in the world to the conclusions arrived to the questions posed by Plato thousands of years ago.