Faces ★★★

Journey into the night
Turning madness
Into laughter and dance.
Morning hangover remains.

Makes everything in A Woman Under the Influence seem relatively restrained in comparison, and thus the rhythms and diversions seem less coherent and of a whole. Starts with an all too on the nose self-reflexive sequence (“La Dolce Vita of the commercial field!”), and then almost lost me all together during the 20 minutes song, dance, and joke routine at Rowland’s apartment. It boldly withholds any relevant exposition, as well as who exactly is the protagonist in this situation, until the very end, but thus comes with the necessary caveats: anything important only comes into play in retrospect. Finds later grounding once it gets to Lynn Carlin (the film is neatly structured as one 24 hour period), as the sequence teeters between pure comedy and pure terror (the phone bit that starts the sequence is the perfect calling card), and when it finally drops its bombs, the camera stops moving and stays centered so we can feel it. If only the film had stayed with Carlin, whose performance is always telling in comparison to the (deliberately) caricatures around her, which range from the willfully absurd to the awkwardly sympathetic (“Just kiss me”). Meanwhile, Marley has a fun bro-session that could be completely excised in theory and the inevitable conclusion to his and Rowland’s night doesn’t have the tension of the “will he/she-won’t he/she” that sparks so much of Carlin’s narrative. Thankfully, compositions always uniquely composed, finding new dynamics that constantly shift the power of the scene, and ending with a hangover that cements my grounding emotionally. Seen in 129 minute cut, but seeing that the Criterion edition runs a solid 150 minutes. I imagine there are cuts that run even longer, but I’d like to see a version parsed down to the essentials.