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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>
Everyone views movies differently. I for one didn't think we were meant to wonder who was crazier Mabel or her husband. Cassavetes makes a strong, bold (and rarely voiced) point...it is the husband! Mabel loved her children, loved to dance and sing and for that she was committed. Her "unidentified mental illness" seems to intensify when her husband mistreated her and was physically or verbally violent...in my opinion going a bit crazy after someone slaps you is probably healthier and saner than being polite, demure, and rational.
Mabel loves life, shows her love without apology, and is severely punished for it. Everyone else in the movie struggles to calm everyone down and avoid showing too much emotion. While this may be more socially acceptable it isn't sane or even healthy. Humans are emotional beings...I for one say Brava! Mabel.
I think the director tips his hand and proves his point when Mabel's character comes home from the institution. She hasn't seen her children, husband, and family for 6 months and people assault her, some she has never even met, before she even leaves the car. When she does get inside the safety of her own home the people who put her away and told to forget the past greet her with small talk and politeness! Then when she finally sees her children after being told to "wait a minute" she says to herself that she wants to remain calm and show "no emotions." It seems obvious that this is a perfectly acceptable time to be emotional but fresh from the institution she know being normal doesn't allow you to be emotional. Emotions are scary, messy, and inconvenient and I for one am thrilled that John Cassavetes didn't shy away from them.
This movie is a true original.
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