Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sight & Sound Challenge: A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Film: A Woman Under the Influence (65/250)
Critics Poll: 144th 
Directors Poll: 59th 
First Time/Rewatch: Rewatch

This film completely blew me away when I saw it for the first time last February. I was going to wait longer before revisiting it for this challenge, but something about it was calling to me. Firstly, Gena Rowlands is amazing as the woman becoming completely unraveled. From the very first scene I got a sense of her nervous energy and could tell that something was very wrong. She goes from a manic happy housewife to a snarling animal to a scared little girl, sometimes all in the same scene. It's an incredible performance, one that got her an Oscar nomination (I haven't seen the performance that beat hers, but I'd imagine it would have to be something pretty spectacular). And while she is the tour de force of this film, I've always been especially moved by Peter Falk's performance as the husband who's becoming as unglued as his wife, trying to hold his family together. His performance brings me to tears, it's absolutely devastating. If you've ever doubted whether Falk was a good actor, watch this movie. Some films are about sweeping visuals, or memorable scores, but this one is about the acting. It's an absolute pleasure to watch two actors at their peak, and bravo to John Cassavetes for directing it so masterfully. 

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