9 user 24 critic

Coming Apart (1969)

Not Rated | | Drama | 14 July 2004 (France)
Psychiatrist installs a concealed movie camera in his apartment to record the screwed-up lives of the women who visit him.

On Disc

at Amazon

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.1/10 X  

A reporter who has had an affair with the daughter of the U.S. President is sent to Hungary. There he is bitten by a werewolf, and then gets transferred back to Washington, where he gets a ... See full summary »

Director: Milton Moses Ginsberg
Stars: Dean Stockwell, Katalin Kallay, Henry Ferrentino
Maidstone (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

Norman T. Kingsley, famous movie director, runs for President.

Director: Norman Mailer
Stars: Norman Mailer, Rip Torn, Paul Austin
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

The film depicts the adventures of expatriate American writer Henry Miller and his friends, as they pursue art, money, food, and sex in Paris.

Director: Joseph Strick
Stars: Rip Torn, James T. Callahan, Ellen Burstyn
Kron (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Earning his living photographing the facets of diamonds for gem merchants and the architecture of insects for biologists, Kron turns his camera on the delicate movements of the watches he's... See full summary »

Director: Milton Moses Ginsberg


Cast overview:
Robert Blankshine ...
Darlene Cotton ...
Julie Garfield ...
Lois Markle ...
Megan McCormick ...
Nancy MacKay ...
Kevin O'Connor ...
Jane Marla Robbins ...
Lynn Swan ...
Joanna Vischer ...


Joe is a psychiatrist who puts a hidden camera behind his couch, facing a wall sized mirror in order to document a number of women who come and go. Obsessed with a former lover, Joe intends to perform and record an "experiment in contemporary sexual aberration." In the process, Joe documents his own mental breakdown as well as a number of sexually volatile encounters with the women who come to see him. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 July 2004 (France)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Joe: ...You're all tripped out. Speed freaks. You're screwy, Baby! Ever see the inside of a 24-hour cold capsule? That's what your chromosomes probably look like. If I knocked you up, you'd probably have a giraffe.
See more »


Referenced in The City Below the Line (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Impossible to look away
13 August 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The conceit of 'Coming Apart' is that the film is footage from a hidden camera placed by a married psychiatrist in his Manhattan flat-away-from-home to document sexual encounters with various women, as a way (perhaps) of rebutting against the mistress who broke his heart and not incidentally lives in the same building.

Rip Torn is the psychiatrist, Joe Glassman, Viveca Lindfors is the mistress, Monica, and Sally Kirkland is a young former patient, Joanne, slowly coming unhinged and projecting her failures onto Joe.

In its voyeurism and genuinely objective cinema vérité style (the camera never moves, unless Joe is positioning it for another encounter), it resembles some of the films of Andy Warhol, but this is more resonant because Warhol's films depicted a counterculture, while this one depicts something closer to normal. 'Coming Apart' is absolutely gripping and fascinating to watch in a way that most ordinary films, edited and filmed with a point-of-view, are not. The camera just sits there, the scenes unfold, and I entered a sort of hypnotic state. The movie makes a clear illustration of the function of cinema as voyeurism, and also a convincing argument for voyeurism as the purest form of truth on film. The filmmaker, Milton Moses Ginsberg, has made a movie predicated as much on film theory as on personal experiences. In the latter respect, it is uninhibitedly candid, and often very painful. The actors give performances that are naked and free of affect, and this is particularly true of Sally Kirkland, who is barer here than any of Lars von Trier's heroines, and it's a brave performance.

Because the dramatic elements are so intense and effective, this is not merely an exercise or an experiment, because it transcends its form. The symbolism is a bit heavy-handed at times, but it isn't unsuccessful. Joe is the ultimate self-reflective individual, looking inward, looking at himself, filming himself, somehow vacant and lacking a distinguishable personality, with a large mirror behind the couch on which he sits (a courtesy to the viewer, as well) -- how could his surname be anything other than "Glassman"? That he is a psychiatrist adds another layer of provocation. A vicious cycle is depicted. Joe's instability makes it impossible for him to responsibly treat his patients, and the instability of his patients makes sexual intimacy with them dangerous to his own already fragile psychological state.

The movie is not perfect, and it gradually introduces jump cuts (accompanied by a thundering snapping sound) and presents the final scene in slow-motion. While these things are dramatically effective, they are inconsistent with the parameters established by the movie's conceptual conceit and therefore constitute a severe flaw -- being, the introduction of a point-of-view, of a director's manipulation of the material. While it can't be overlooked, it can be excused, I think, in the face of this extraordinary film's many other merits.

'Coming Apart' was not well-received, yet I think it would have been were it a European film. There are things that European filmmakers can get away with but American filmmakers cannot, and 'Coming Apart' is daring, penetrating, and probably, in its way, ahead of its time. Sadly, it was buried for over 25 years and Milton Moses Ginsberg had to settle for a career as an editor. This is unfortunate, as I'd love to see the filmmaking career he might have had.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: