Criterion Year Week 32: A Woman Under The Influence

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

A Woman Under the Influence

Spine Number: 253

Director: John Cassavetes

Genre: Drama

We have been using the metaphor of a party to describe the films of Cassavetes, and so... let's continue that. "Shadows," is life at and around the party, what happens in social settings and how those dynamics function as a part of daily life. "Faces" is the after party. What happens when the party is over, but there is still that need to be out there and how do we deal with strange situations and people that only seem to exist in the wee small hours of the morning. In "A Woman Under The Influence,"  the party is over and all you are left with is the crushing banality of daily life. There are good times, but there are also a lot of bad times. Very bad times. Times where the air is just sucked out of the room and you struggle to make sense of any of it.

So... what is life after the party ends?

First and foremost... Gina Rowlands is so good in this movie that it almost hurts. It is literally impossible to put into words. The world she lives in is messy. She is unhinged and lacks any real moorings to steady her. Peter Falk is harrowing to say the least. This movie is hard to watch. It's a parade of characters who don't know what to do, don't really want to be doing what they're doing, and have no idea where what their goal should be.

This is a standout film, incredibly shot and acted, solidly paced and written, and you almost feel like you need a shower when it ends.

But don't let that dissuade you from taking the next step on our journey through the world of John Cassavetes.

Next Week:

We inch closer to the end with...

Spine number 254: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

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