Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quick Film Review--A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

1. A Woman Under the Influence was my first Cassavetes film. He's just one of those guys that I never got around too. I'd have to say that it is, well, fine. I can see why he's was so influential to the indie film movement. This movie shared both many of the strengths and flaws of indie film. He got some great performances, but the script seemed awfully weak at time. It could be emotionally powerful, but also not thought through so carefully. It was raw in both the good and bad ways. Do I need to see more Cassavetes? I'm fairly indifferent.

2. I've always wondered how Peter Falk got to be such a big actor. Not that he's bad. But rather, how did an actor with a lazy eye rise up past all the pretty boys? I don't know his biography that well, so I don't have an answer. I do have to say that I didn't find his performance particularly compelling here. It consists of lots of random yelling. He had some good scenes and I suspect the yelling thing was at least as much Cassavetes as Falk.

3. Gena Rowlands carries this film. She was pretty remarkable. I tend to be skeptical of mental illness on film. Lots of people exclaim what a great acting performance someone has because they are mentally retarded in the film. DiCaprio in Gilbert Grape is a prime example. But how hard is it to act retarded? Not too difficult, actors I have known told me. Much more challenging is having a condition, like DeNiro in Awakenings. Despite my trepidations about mental illness on film, Rowlands is a powerhouse here. She conveys so many emotions at one time. Quite remarkable.