Thoughts on A Woman Under the Influence

Monday, June 21, 2010 1:24 PM By Simon

-So, basically, we're documenting a housewife's spiral into increasingly erratic and insane behavior, right? I didn't get it. I just didn't understand. While the performances, Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, were all incredible, the plot structure is just...the thing where you'd think it'd be a climax is followed by a part-humorous, part-really uncomfortable scene of father-and-children merriment, then six months later, a homecoming dinner that dissolves into crazy town, then...what? He doesn't love her anymore? I'm just stream-of-consciousing here, keep in mind.

-Peter Falk seemed more crazy than Gena Rowlands, if I must be honest. He spent half the movie screaming, pushing people around, and I get why and all, but comparatively, Rowlands' character wasn't doing anything nearly so batshit.

-Can someone explain?

-Oh, Mr. Cassavettes. I'm having my doubts.


Dan (Top10Films) said...

I think you've got to take a wider perspective with Cassavettes films. If you think that at the time his way of making movies was largely unheard of. On-location shooting, improvisation, hand-held camerawork, long takes/scenes. It was very fresh and exciting at the time. It was also an important part of the female counter-culture of the period. His influence on filmmaking is second to only a very few. A Woman Under The Influence is a film you can appreciate for its freshness, even though you may never come to love it.

June 21, 2010 at 4:05 PM
Chris said...

His best for me is Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), which I recommend

I tried Woman UTI, Faces , Husbands, but didn't like them for the same reasons you stated: "screaming, pushing people around" etc

June 22, 2010 at 2:02 AM
"Yojimbo_5" said...

This movie came out when I was in college, and Peter Falk came to campus to promote it, rather than do the traditional newspaper jaw-breaking. And he was SO enthusiastic about this movie for bending rules and touching subject matter that wasn't being seen. I've been through some situations with mentally disabled people (for instance, my Mother died of Alzheimer's--you know "Alice in Wonderland?" (any version) Kinda like that. This is one of those movies that will appear different after crisis (which I hope you never have). I guess what I'm saying, Simon, is I hope you never understand this movie. Yeah. That's what I'm saying.

June 22, 2010 at 8:19 PM
Frank said...

This is by far my favorite Cassavettes film. And don't you dare have doubts about him. And Dan is right, you need to look at one of his films from a bigger point of view - his films are wonderful. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is my next favorite.

C'mon SIMON!

June 23, 2010 at 7:03 AM