Monday, September 14, 2015

481. FACES (1968)

Running Time: 130 minutes
Directed By: John Cassavetes
Written By: John Cassavetes
Main Cast: John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, Fred Draper
Click here to view the trailer


So after a five day break from the blog, my hopes of getting this thing wrapped up by Halloween are slowly fading away. I'll still give it my best, but I was feeling a bit burned out and needed some time to recharge the batteries. In other news, I've purchased a new notebook laptop and this will be the first official review written on it. I'm really digging it so far and am hoping that it makes writing reviews a bit easier. Read on...

Plot synopsis really isn't completely necessary here, as just a few sentences and I could easily sum up the events of Faces. However, I'll do my best to properly fill you in. At the center of the film, is a married couple - Richard (Marley) and Maria Forst (Carlin). They've been married for a while and while they seemingly get along fairly decent, below the surface, the marriage is crumbling. One evening, the two get into a spat while discussing the infidelities of one of Richard's colleagues, causing Richard to blow up and announce his desire for a divorce. This takes Maria off guard, of course and Richard leaves, proclaiming he'll send for his clothes, but he physically won't be back. Richard finds companionship, instead, in the arms of Jeannie (Rowlands), a prostitute whom he's seen on occasion in the past. The two spend the night together and meanwhile, Maria finds her solace in the arms of blonde haired, playboy Chet (Cassel). During the night, Maria overdoses on sleeping pills, causing Chet to have to go all APARTMENT on her ass. I'll leave the rest up to you and your eyeballs.

I don't think the phrase "spoiler alert" is applicable here, as I've pretty much just told you 90% of the film and still, I didn't really spoil anything. Faces is not a film that is subject to spoilage, as it's a film that needs to be experienced, rather than one intended solely for entertainment purposes. I need to clarify already, that I wasn't completely blown away by Faces, even though this is normally just the type of thing I go for. I definitely liked it, don't get me wrong, but I'd say at this point Cassavetes is 0-2 with me. In a normal world, he'd be 2-2, but I had SUCH high hopes going into these that I'd have to consider both Shadows and Faces to be, at least, mild disappointments ("mild" in Faces' case, "medium" in Shadows' case). I don't know what it was about the film. How about all the hysterical laughing, for one? How annoying was that? That whole scene where Richard and Maria are discussing Draper's sex dreams and they're just laughing at each other for like ten minutes - while it does a lot to develop the camaraderie in the Forst relationship, it's also hugely annoying. Also and I don't know why, I really couldn't stand Gena Rowlands here. I'd really have to think to remember another movie I've seen her in, so we'll consider this my first experiences with Ms. Rowlands. While I thought she was a fine actress and a looker to boot, I just couldn't get into her character. Any scene that involved her, quickly realized that it was going to be another slow step in the film.

On the other hand, certain segments were quite fascinating, ie. the scene where Maria overdoses and the scene where we first see Richard and Maria together, early in the film (save for the laughing part). I also really enjoyed John Marley and Lynn Carlin. I thought they were both gems and I'd have LOVED to have seen more between them. I felt like we were entitled to a bigger blowup from the two when the divorce is announced and maybe even a second knock down drag out toward the end, as the film ends and the two fall into each other, exhausted from their verbal battle, realizing they're made for each other. As it is, the ending is fine. I loved Cassavetes' decision to end the film with a whimper, as opposed to a bang - the two couples sitting on the stairs, nursing their cigarettes, silent - probably contemplating where it goes from here, just as we are probably contemplating the same thing.

Boy, I'm really torn on this one. On one hand, it was sort of perfect and even writing about it and reflecting about it have caused me to sweeten on it. However, I can't help but feel disappointed by Faces and by Cassavetes, thus far, as a whole. Perhaps it's my own fault for waiting nearly ten years to see movies that I could've easily seen then. Don't put off till tomorrow, what can easily do today, right? Right!

RATING: 6.5/10  Put it right outside the door of a '7' and that upper tier I always talk about. I can see myself liking this one even more in a few days, once my brain has marinated in it's thoughts & processes for a little while longer.


September 14, 2015  4:51pm


  1. Mystified. I know I've seen this, but reading you review, and looking at the stills .. I'm not reognising any of it, and having severe doubts .. Did I watch another film by mistake .. or did I doze off .. or simply just not bother remembering it?

    1. Well that doesn't speak much for the film, that's for sure. Perhaps a rewatch is in order?


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