|Index||5 reviews in total|
I saw "The Left-Handed Woman" on its original release more than twenty years ago, and though I have never seen it since it continues to haunt me. The performance by Edith Clever I think is one of the most moving depictions of the solitary individual that I know. Handke perfectly realizes his own haunting story in cinematic form. I have had no luck finding the movie on video, but someday surely I shall be able to see and admire it again. A terribly neglected masterpiece.
Of the many films by Peter Handke (either alone or with his partner Wim Wenders) this may be the most appealing. It is also not recommended for modern viewers accustomed to Hollywood's rhythm -it is long, slow paced and even difficult to follow sometimes. I strongly recommend viewers to read the book too, although they may not find too many additional clues there, for Handke's style is to reflect the character's actions rather than their thoughts (which, by the way, should be the perfect cinematic approach). Some people have wasted their time especulating about the woman's reasons to divorce her husband: the french essayist Gilles Lipovetsky even said that her "lack of good reasons" is a sign of modern life's emptiness. In fact, we can not say she does not have reasons: only we are not allowed to see them on the screen. One might even think that Handke himself did not care to build the woman's inner thoughts (and if he did, he sure did not share them with us). The movie, and the book, are about communication between us, or at least this is one of its possible readings. Do we really know what is on other people's mind, even people real close to us? The answer is no: we can only talk of what they tell us, or what we might hint, but how many times had we been completely wrong about somebody? The movie defies the usual assumption of an omniscient camera: the woman would not share her thoughts with the viewers, and this leaves us with a sense of discomfort. We feel compelled to find motivations that are just not there. Just the fact that the movie makes us think about it would be enough to qualify it as a masterpiece.
Peter Handke was best known as a novelist,playwright and screenwriter of many of Wenders' early films(he went on to write "Wings of desire" nine years later)when he made this,his debut feature.Few novelists make the transition to director easily but this film is remarkably assured for a first effort.Edith Clever,the German actress who starred very memorably for Eric Rohmer as "The Marquise of O" plays the housewife who one day announces that she wants a divorce from her husband.No reasons or explanations are ever given;the viewer can only speculate about her state of mind as the film proceeds in a series of beautifully shot, reflective scenes photographed by Wenders' usual cameraman Robby Mueller.The static camera-work and long takes are reminiscent of Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Die linkshändige Frau" or "The Left-Handed Woman" is a West German German-language film from 1978, so this one will soon have its 40th anniversary. The writer here is Peter Handke who did not only come up with the novel that this is based on, but also adapted his work for the screen. Plus this is one of the rare occasions where the prolific writer also acts as director. His most known work as the man in charge. The film received a good deal of awards recognition and you could call it one of the career-defining films for lead actress Edith Clever, who plays the title character. She is supported by more known names like Bruno Ganz, Angela Winkler, Bernhard Wicki and Rüdiger Vogler and even Gérard Depardieu appears briefly. This is the story of a man who returns home from abroad, but when he does, his wife informs him that she intends to leave him, together with their son. This is fairly fine and interesting, but really not even the core plot for the first half of the film. The rest is basically about how Clever's character deals with the new complicated situation, for example how her son annoys her during her work as a single mother. I must say this film has some solid moments, but I still found it fairly dragging and way too long for its own good. It is extremely bleak and had many lengths in my opinion, which is why I am not convinced by Handke's work as a director. Just as a writer, if at all. Maybe Wenders (Handke's longtime collaborator) could have made something better out of this one. I also am not really impressed by Clever's performance and I would not call it awards- or even nomination-worthy. I guess she received lots of recognition because she is basically in every scene of the film except the very beginning and has lots of screen-time in a movie that comes close to the 2-hour mark. I would have preferred more elaboration on Ganz' and Vogler's characters for example. The way it turned out, I can not recommend the watch. I have seen many better (German) films from the 1970s. Thumbs down.
Honestly not much happens here. An unhappily married woman announces
that she wants to leave her husband and takes her son with her...and
she does! Movie then spends the rest of its running time observing her
fussing and her various efforts at being comfortable living in peace
with her young son. (she's a writer and her son keeps interrupting her
while she's trying to write) Movie is watchable thanks to its direction
and cinematography (some of which is very scenic) and the acting is
fine--but there's not a whole lot of momentum here. Eventually Bruno
Ganz shows back up (he being the ex husband) but he's clearly happy not
being married to the woman anymore--so the film doesn't even have that
little bit of tension going for it. If he's happy, and ultimately
despite her concerns so is the woman--then why are we watching this???
I did like when her father visited her tho--there's a brief interlude where her father shows up and takes a walk with her through a supermarket where he encounters an actor and tells the actor that he feels that's he's not leaving traces of himself in his roles---"you're like an American actor--you just go from role to role without giving an audience any sense of who you are as a person!" he says--"I look forward to seeing you grow up from film to film in the future." Also Gerard Depardieu shows up quite briefly in one nice long shot while the woman is meeting her father at the train station wearing some ironic t-shirt like a modern day hipster-- and then doesn't speak any lines whatsoever. (the least he could've done was be the actor that the father sees in the supermarket but nope!)
I know someone who really liked this film--but honestly to me it didn't make the inner torment the woman is going through any more cinematic then it should be in order to truly be enlightening or moving to audiences ask to identify with her plight. I have to imagine a lot of this read a lot better on page then it plays on screen.
|Official site||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|