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An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
El Hedi ben Salem,
Peter Falk is a blue collar man trying to deal with his wife's mental instability. He fights to keep a semblance of normality in the face of her bizarre behavior, but when her actions affect their children, he has her committed. Written by
BA Jacobson <email@example.com>
Another IMDb reviewer, Dolly_Lo, wrote a review in September 2009, titled "Don't Accept It". See below:
"Cassavetes was clearly an intelligent, sensitive man with bold new ideas about making films. He wanted to be an auteur, to break away from the confines of the system and bring a new realism to the American cinema. For that, I applaud him.
Unfortunately, as a member of his audience, I cannot applaud A Woman Under the Influence. Cassavetes took what could have been a fascinating topic (an insane woman) and somehow managed to craft a dull film, filled with lengthy, ad-libbed ranting and drawn-out scenes. He seems to have had a gift for capturing the dullest moments of a person's life on film, and it often appears as though he simply turned the camera on his family and let the motor run and run. This tactic would be acceptable if Cassavetes had captured something devastatingly REAL -- or even a kernel of something so real it touched the heart in ways a conventional film could not. Yet I found the performances, particularly Rowlands', to be artificial. I never believed for a moment that she was really insane. I have met people who are truly mentally disturbed, yet I've never seen any of them act quite like Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. She played it like a very obnoxious, uninhibited woman who drinks a lot, and even that was confusing because we only see her drink once (at the beginning), but she acts drunk for the remainder of the film. There are some moments in which she taps into something real, but those moments are few and far between; she fails to sustain a seamless mentally disturbed character. Again, I applaud her efforts, but effort alone is not enough to make the performance ring true.
Novice audiences who happen upon this film and see its high IMDb rating will no doubt feel compelled to love it and rate it highly, just to prove that they 'get it.' But don't be brainwashed by the hype -- judge for yourself. You don't have to pretend to like it.
Like Woody Allen, John Cassavetes could be accused of solipsism in his film-making, seeming to find his own psyche and his own life experiences so endlessly fascinating that he couldn't imagine that to others they appeared presumptive and tortuously self-indulgent. But Woody Allen at least has demonstrated a gift for keeping an audience entertained -- he knows that a compelling story structure and a good dose of humor are essential to any movie. If Cassavetes had employed some self-discipline (and a sharp pair of editing shears!), A Woman Under the Influence could have stood a chance. But what's the point of making a 'realistic' film if the only people who can stand to sit through it are the art-house devotees and film students who worship Cassavetes as some sort of anti-establishment deity? Without dumbing anything down, I believe Cassavetes could have made A Woman slightly more accessible by keeping the pace moving with an actual plot, instead of presenting a string of 30 minute-long scenes of ad-libbed arguments. If you just make films for yourself and a few of your fans, you're just reaching the already converted. Watch this movie with your own set of eyes and make your own decisions about it. If you are truly moved and fascinated by it, good for you."
I don't think I can improve on this review as it exactly reflects my own independent impression of this film. Dolly_Lo, however, has already read my mind and written it herself so I'll just site her and leave it at that. I would only add this. Take a hatchet and chop this film up. Put it back together anyway you like and it won't make a bit of difference it the outcome unless you choose to discard about 75% of it before reassembling. That would be an improvement.
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