Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
A Woman Under the Influence
Peter Falk is a blue collar man trying to deal with his wife's mental instability. He fights to keep a semblance of normality in the face of her bizarre behavior, but when her actions affect their children, he has her committed
A devastating masterwork of one woman's downward spiral and a dry, humanist deconstruction of acceptable social politics. It is a film about family, commitment, desperation, redemption, endurance and the struggles of the working class. It is a film that sucked me right in with jaw-loosening, goosebumps-inducing acting. Gena Rowlands transforms herself. She becomes the distraught Mabel, an unimaginable character. It is so unconventional and uncompromising what she does in the first half, slowly losing her sense of "normal" public and private behavior. Her performance is nothing short of astonishing. Is she becoming mentally ill, or has she always been this way? Is she really mentally sick at all? The conclusion of her mental state lays entirely on the viewer. This…
Departures and homecomings
Always on the edge
Frames or otherwise.
Truth in the eyes.
Hate repeating old party lines on Letterboxd (is there anything more pointless than 100 reviews that all say “X actor really gives his/her all!”?), but must admit how much I’m struck by the control of Cassavetes’s camera in every scene; the incorrectly assumed improvisation is really the work of a master. What is more striking is that most of the important visual information is often teetering on the edges of the frame. One really great example is when Mabel goes to the bar. On the bottom of the frame, her hand pops in and out just enough so we can glimpse her ring finger. The hand…
I'm not sure if I can even begin to describe my sheer amazement at Gena Rowlands nuanced performance or my deep admiration for the realism of John Cassavetes. In many regards, I think one could almost classify A Woman Under the Influence as a kitchen sink drama with its domestic tension and entrapped claustrophobic character entanglements. Obviously the domestic aspect is of how small scale the film is set and those involved but I think Cassavete's realism shines through how he frames his characters as well. Rowlands descent into insanity is all the more amplified by how her real life husband Cassavete's films her in close ups while everyone else is usually at a distance. Perhaps signifying their distance in…
"Stand up for me"
The look and feel of this unbearably intense emotional drama is frankly stunning. At times I could barely breathe, but the presentation of this film is intoxicating.
Reminding of the later likes of Wenders and Cimino, I liked how it didn't take sides, all characters here have a perspective worth hearing. Falk and Rowlands at the epicentre give frighteningly real performances. Rowland's character I will never forget, a slightly emotionally unstable free spirit continually suffocated into a nervous breakdown by the social politics in her time and place. The rest of the characters try to get their heads around this character in their own way, with some more dismissively judgmental and destructive than others. The spectre…
If you ever want to experience the cohesion of a director with his actors at its peak this is surely it. Both Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk out on life-changing performances which are captured and brought out perfectly by John Cassavetes. The emotional turmoil and the dark depths of the human mind are aired like dirty laundry in a truly disturbing but completely fascinating manor. The struggles and fights that mark the low-points of marriage and love is what gives birth to these performances of true realism by the two lead actors, and it is emotionally beautiful in the most depressing way possible. A truly amazing film.
I have always heard of the great work of John Cassavetes – the fact that he is, arguably, the one of most influential and important figures in the history of American Independent Cinema (‘The Father’, some have said). I knew I needed to see his films, but I never really took the time to seek out his work. That is until my then-girlfriend, now-wife, purchased the John Cassavetes: Five Films boxed set from the Criterion Collection (one in a long list of reasons I wholeheartedly love my wife). Not only did she buy the box set off of eBay, but she got the Chinese version (a knockoff more than likely). Hell, the DVD for Opening Night is spelled Opening Hight.…
If this is John Cassavetes’ masterpiece, I’m not sure if it’s worth checking out the rest of his stuff.
I’ve heard a lot about this man. From film friends who adore him, from Derek Cianfrance who adores him, from other miscellaneous sources. Derek Cianfrance was the main reason why I got interested in seeing Cassavetes films, though. Because Cianfrance is one of my all-time faves. And he loves himself some Cassavetes.
A Woman Under The Influence isn’t a terrible film by any means.
As a centerpiece for a female leading performance, it is a masterpiece. Gena Rowlands was snubbed. One of the most believable and compelling female performances I’ve ever seen. I mean, this lady IS effing crazy. There was…
John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence was powerfully acted and both Peter Falk and more particularly Gena Rowlands were splendid in what I’m sure were extremely demanding and exhausting roles to play, mentally and physically. It was a family drama made with noble intentions that attempts to offer a disturbingly realistic look at the way in which severe mental illness can affect a family and how it can be handled within it. I found certain moments and scenes quite engrossing, including the ending which was remarkable, but looking at the whole picture I realize that it was far from perfect and this was probably due to some artistic decisions that I wasn’t too pleased by.
One thing I’m sure…
Gena Rowlands is a whirlwind of neuroses in this film. her non-verbal acting is dense with expressions. it's not specified what mental illness(es) the character suffers from but her discipline in trying not to smoothen the wrinkles or soften the corners of her character is impressive.
Peter Falk, for some reason, annoyed me. he did well enough in his acting, but perhaps it was his character that bothered me and not Peter Falk's acting.
the loose and unpredictable flow of the film through tightened scenes kept me emotionally invested. John Cassavetes' improvisational filmmaking allows interactions to blossom or shrink like real-life interactions; it was hard not to get drawn in or affected as if you were in the room with the characters.
the children were involved in the film in a way that was not distracting and were allowed to be children instead of "little adults" and this added a level of consequence that layered the parents' portrayals.
As it stands right now, if Cassavetes’ first feature, Shadows, had never existed, this would easily be my favorite of his. I love how it forced me to challenge notions of right and wrong without ever once force feeding me what it is I’m supposed to be taking away from it. Even the use of the word Woman in the title deserves some serious contemplating, for clearly other influences are at play here besides the ones effecting Mabel. I could write a whole essay on just that one aspect alone, and there are many more aspects that deserve deeper digging as well. Talk about a densely layered film.
John Cassavetes is oft-considered the Godfather of Independent Cinema and (alongside Scorsese) was hugely successful in driving the success of the "non-Hollywood") film during the 60s and 70s. This is his best film.
Originally written as a theatre piece, Gena Rowlands feared she couldn't perform the role to a high enough standard consistently, so it was re-written as a film.
Der erste Cassavetes-Film, in dem ich Liebe spürte. Viel davon. Wodurch ich dann auch die kochenden Emotionen angesichts einer Situation, für die der Mensch individuelle Reaktions- und Handlungsmuster finden muss, verstehen konnte. Es ist der klassische Fall der Beobachtung von Reaktionen des Umfelds auf einen Menschen, der sich nicht normgerecht verhält. Und es ist wirklich traurig, zuzusehen, wie sich die Menschen bemühen, nach bestem Wissen und Gewissen handeln, ihrer Haut gemäß, aus der sie ja nicht können, es aber oft nur schlimmer machen. Gerade der Ehemann pocht beständig auf Harmonie, und wenn er sie mit Gewalt herstellen muss. Das ist ein Widerspruch, der sich aber aus seinem Charakter erklärt, ohne ihn zu entschuldigen. Ja, zum ersten Mal konnte ich das…
Cassavetes penultimate film, and Gena Rowlands best performance. Possibly Peter Falk's best performance, as well.
The film equivalent of a languorous, anxiety-steeped hemorrhoid. A unique film that finds portentous material in a woman's unhinging. by way both of society and her own familial pressures. A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE incorporates the viewer into it's own pile of stress; as if playing an active part, shots are often directed from low or off kilter perspectives, or through a hand-held camera. It's an ingenious approach that adds so much more to the film.
This has been referenced often as a touchstone of American independent cinema. Released in 1974, it never directly combats the political climate of the era, instead choosing to show how the state of the country in this period reverberates onto its characters. Nick and…
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