Friday, February 10, 2012

A Woman Under the Influence

There's a shot in John Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence that captures the whole mood of the film. As he watches his wife Mabel (Gena Rowlands) resisting getting committed and rapidly loses grips with reality, Nick (Peter Falk) expresses a pained look, realizing Mabel has gone off the edge.

What caused Mabel to snap? Perhaps her mundane life as a housewife could be viewed as a contribution. She's alone most of the day, and she is clearly someone who longs for companionship. So basically she got bored out of her mind.

Another contribution is Nick himself. He tries so hard to keep his family together, he ends up breaking it up more. Nick is a staggering portrait of blind devotion; he wants his wife to stay yet he absentmindedly pushes her away.

Cassavetes was noted for focusing strictly on the characters' movements. More than once in A Woman Under the Influence the camera captures Mabel's many facial and gestural quirks. We're watching her unravel before ours eyes and no one else seems to notices.

A Woman Under the Influence is a brilliant film. Cassavetes gives us a glance of a marriage completely falling apart at the seams. Oh, and one more thing: how Rowlands didn't win and Falk wasn't nominated is beyond me. (Maybe their performances were too daring at the time?)

My Rating: *****

1 comment:

  1. Both performance from 2 leading actors are terrific,I also believe it has something to do with Cassavetes' directing style.


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