Mabel, a wife and mother, is loved by her husband Nick but her madness proves to be a problem in the marriage. The film transpires to a positive role of madness in the family, challenging conventional representations of madness in cinema.
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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>
John Cassavetes, could not find any distributor for this film after completion, and was at one point literally carrying the reels of the film under his arm from one theater to another in hopes of getting one to play his movie. Finally, 'Martin Scorcese' , who had recently become a critically acclaimed director thanks to his film Mean Streets (1973) and happened to be a huge fan of Cassavetes' work threatened to pull his film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) from a major New York film festival unless they accepted this film. See more »
In the scene where Nick first decides to have Mabel committed, he's got a towel on his shoulder and a bottle of gin in his hand. The next cut contains the towel, but no bottle of gin. The following shot the gin returns. See more »
This two and a half hour movie left me sweaty, exhausted and hollowed out. In its own way it's an extremely well done film, but I don't know that it's an experience I want to repeat. Director John Cassavetes follows a few months in the life of a family whose mother and wife (Gena Rowlands) is suffering from mental illness, and the movie consists of one long scene after another of her cracking up, or trying not to crack up, and the various family members' reactions to her cracking up. Peter Falk plays the husband and father who thinks that mental illness is just some silly nonsense his wife should be able to stop if she just tried hard enough. Rowlands has the showier role, but Falk is the revelation here. His depiction of a husband who blusters and shouts to hide his overwhelming sense of helplessness and fear is superb.
Cassavetes's camera is relentless. We watch Rowlands suffer again and again in long takes and intimate closeups. There are times when you simply want to look away from the screen to help this poor woman preserve a shred of dignity. The highlight of the film (or low point, depending on your point of view) comes when Rowlands's character returns home from a stay in an institution, and her family works overtime to convince themselves that everything's fine when the audience can see clearly that everything is not.
Bruising is the best word I can think of to describe this film.
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