Monday, September 21, 2015

582. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Running Time: 146 minutes
Directed By: John Cassavetes
Written By: John Cassavetes
Main Cast: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, Katherine Cassavetes
Click here to view the trailer


Well, it's been a busy week, guys. I had no intention of taking a week off, but now that I have, it's clear that I'm probably not getting THE BOOK finished by Halloween. So let's shoot for the end of the year instead and take some of the pressure off. Anyway, we're still in the midst of Cassavetes Week, which has been disappointing thus far. But, perhaps, A Woman Under the Influence could get me into the good graces of Mr. Cassavetes.

Gena Rowlands (Cassavetes real life wife) is the star of this show, playing Mabel Longhetti, wife to Nick Longhetti (Falk) and mother to three children. The film begins with Mabel loading the three kids into her mother's car, so that she and Nick can have a night to themselves. Except Nick works for the city and on this same night, a water main breaks keeping him out at work all night long. Mabel ends up going to a bar and yada yada yada has an affair with Nick. Except the film isn't about an affair, as Nick never finds out about the other man. The film is about Mabel's slow descent into madness, as she suffers from various mental problems, as well as, probably a pretty good dose of depression on top of all that. The film is doled out in pieces, some short, some long. The film takes place over the course of a couple of days, the one or two days prior to Mabel being committed. Then we skip ahead six months to the day Mabel is to be released from the hospital and we get one more day in the life of the Longhetti's.

I suppose the film is just a tad on the long side, but with phenomenal performances from Rowlands and (to a lesser degree) Falk, how can you blame Cassavetes for not wanting to turn the camera away. At times A Woman Under the Influence is uncomfortable to watch, as if we're guests at the house while Mabel and Nick are going through this peril. In fact, at times it's so personal that for instantaneous flashes, it all feels 100% real. It's as if, for those brief seconds, that we just want to get up and excuse ourselves, but then we remember it's all a movie. I have seen Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and quite enjoyed the performance from Ellen Burstyn. That being said, I'm still of the opinion that Burstyn owes Rowlands an Oscar. I don't want to go overboard here with my praise, so let me just say that I've RARELY seen a performance as good as the one Rowlands gives. Rowalnds poured everything out here, all of her energy, all of her emotion, all of her passion and it's enough to make me want to cry that she wasn't rewarded for it, by her peers.

This is definitely a step in the right direction for Cassavetes, as far as I'm concerned. I wasn't crazy about Shadows at all and Faces was pretty good, but not good enough for a director who's work I'd been looking forward to for so long. I wouldn't go so far as to say I loved this or anything, but I really liked it and call it another strong candidate for, at least, a TEN WORTH MENTIONING spot in the impending TOP 20. I could probably go two or three paragraphs on this one and really analyze it to death, but it's been a long week, so we'll wrap it up with that.

RATING: 7.5/10  Sorry for the awful review, but I really am tired and the smell of my wife's stuffed shells wafting in from the kitchen is REALLY making me want to go see what time dinner will be ready!


September 21, 2015  5:24pm

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