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|Index||99 reviews in total|
I saw this film last year and I was completely blown away. It's amazing
to see how meticulously Theresa's double life has been put together.
The scenes are tightly knit in such a way as to not only emphasize the
differences between Theresa's multiple roles (patient and kind teacher,
lover of many, disco-freak, junkie) but also to steadily bring the
story to an unforgettable climax. Diane Keaton is great in a demanding
role and should have been nominated for an Academy award.
This is a masterpiece about the complexity of the human soul - although I don't think it has been / will ever be appreciated by many. Conventional life leaders, stay away, you won't even begin to understand this.
Will they PLEASE release this on DVD! As of now, it's only available on PAN/SCAN VHS. ....Diane Keaton reinvents herself, going astray from her Annie Hall persona. Her character is complex and it's entertaining to watch her evolve or de-evolve. The mood is classic gritty 70's. Sometimes funny, sometimes sexy, sometimes bleak. ...The ending is of course what will stick with you forever. It's hard to tell what director Richard Brooks wanted to say with this, but none the less, it's a good ride. Highly recommended. Apparently it created quite a stir when it came out, and even today, critics like Leonard Maltin still bring it down saying it's lewd and pointless. You be the judge. Like it or not it's still a good period piece, showing the seedier side of one young woman's life in the city. I can't wait to get this and watch it again -- if the studio ever gets the nerve to release it. I give it a good 9/10.
DIANE KEATON IS MAGNIFICENT IN RICHARD BROOKS' OUTSTANDING ADAPTATION OF JUDITH ROSSNER'S NOVEL. A quarter of a century later, this unforgettable film still packs quite a wallop. Only slightly dated,it's the story of a sexually repressed, disabled young Roman Catholic girl and her sexual awakening in the wild '70s. In virtually every scene, Keaton gives one of the greatest performances in film history. Aided by a great soundtrack and superb support from Tuesday Weld and Richard Kiley, the film also features the breakthrough performances by Richard Gere and Tom Berenger, destined to become two of our biggest actors of the '80s. You'll never forget them, especially Berenger in an offbeat role that was quite a risk for an up-and-coming actor. Like it or hate it, you've got to admit there has never been a film like this on the screen.
Few viewers can deny the impact of this film on the '77 crowd and
generations afterwards. As a curious 8-year-old up late watching HBO, I
never forgot the story or the lesson. Based on a true story, Richard Brooks
astutely translated Judith Rossner's best-selling novel to screen, choosing
a luminous Diane Keaton, hot off `Annie Hall' and `The Godfather' to play
Theresa Dunn, an up-and-coming Richard Gere, a quirky Tuesday Weld , and
amazing Richard Kiley as Dunn, the overbearing Irish-Catholic father. The
misogynistic Richard Atherton and an ominous Tom Berenger rounds out the
Neither traditionally beautiful like her stewardess sister, Katherine or a baby factory like her other sister living at home with her, Theresa is the odd one out, the sister who is searching for approval from a father who barely acknowledges her existence. Childhood traumas mold her and make the fact that Theresa allows herself to be strong and fallible all the more powerful and endearing.
Tired of her father's unyielding rule, Theresa moves into the apartment building owned by Katherine's next attempt at a husband. As the women's freedom movement is underway, Theresa is caught in the position of questioning the traditional roles for women, roles against a new woman in control of her body and her sexuality. By day she teaches at a school for the deaf. By night her nightly jaunts into New York's seamier nightlife scene, expose the dichotomy of being a professional woman by day who must maintain credibility and responsibility, especially with young children while trying to be sexually active, experimental and suffering the stigma attached to both as whore and as a free woman wanting purely physical experiences much the same as men, yet realizing the label is different.
Throughout this film, Brooks explores Theresa's perpetual search for acceptance by men but a need to maintain her own identity. From a failed affair with a Prof. she was a TA to, to her fling with Tony, a local hustler, Theresa is perpetually in question of her sexuality and her allure for men, making poor choices in her partners only to endure their violence and possessiveness - much like her father. That she meets up with a homicidal drifter the New Year's Eve night she has decided to quit drugs and cruising, is the irony of her self-discovery.
The only positive male in her life appears to be is LaVar Burton's character, Cap Jackson, the sullen brother of one of Theresa's students. He is the only male presence in the movie that is not malevolent or trying to extract something from Theresa and during her altercation with Tony at the school, he is the only person to defend and protect her.
While the scare of AIDS stole later generations' promiscuity, this tale still resonates for viewers, especially for women on their own, looking for intimacy yet craving isolation.
While the ending tends to drag with one too many drug scenes the movie still packs a wallop for a finale.
Diane Keaton stars as a first grade teacher for deaf students by day. And at night she is a player at single's bars seeking sexual gratification. When this came out critic's ratings were very mixed. But I can tell you, it is very well acted and very well made. And even though it is a bit overlong, it remains a fascinating portrait from the start all the way to its shocking and disturbing ending. By the way, Tuesday Weld is excellent, and makes very effective use of her limited screen time. Rating 9 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow. This film popped onto HBO tonight and I started watching it
without having heard a thing about it.
The main parts of the plot have been hashed over here many times already, so I don't need to go over that again.
Having seen the whole thing from start to end, I believe that it will be sticking with me for some time. I can also say that I don't wholeheartedly agree with some of the conclusions the film seems to make.
To those that have said that Keaton's character is in some part responsible for her own fate, well, you're right. But then, we all are. If you get rear ended on the highway on the way to work tomorrow, it could have been avoided if you had never gotten in the car, or took a different route, or called in sick.
I don't think she went out looking for trouble. She was lonely, very lonely. She was trustful, too trustful. She was naive and looking for acceptance and a whole bunch of things that I, too, have been at some point in my life (and in some cases, still am). These things made her vulnerable. But just because someone is vulnerable does not give another license to take advantage of them. Or worse.
Can I be honest for a moment? I've been down that path. I encountered some of that "dark side." And though I in no way was as hurt by it as she was, I was still hurt. How scary to look back and realize that it could have been me. There but for the grace of God go I.
But it bothers me that this is a morality tale. Perhaps it's the idealist in me that just doesn't want to accept that bad things happen undeservedly. Perhaps I just want to think that we've moved on from the way society looked upon "unfettered" women in that time period. Those are the things I want, but then there is reality, too.
I was also bothered by some of the over-the-top stereotypes.
But still, wow. Just wow.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I also saw "Looking For Mr. Goodbar" in my senior year and found it to
be one of the most profound films. I can remember sitting in the
audience at the Loma Theatre in San Diego after waiting in a long line
for 2 hours - I had no idea what the film was about - I had seen the
trailer at a viewing of Robert Altman's "Welcome To LA" and loved the
intro of the trailer with Donna Summer's "Try Me" being the opening
music - along with Thelma Houston and O'Jays - Disco music was becoming
quite popular and I was drawn in - I sat in my seat and next to me were
2 women who kept giggling as they spoke about their excitement to see
the film. I turned to them and asked them what the movie was about. One
woman said, "Well, this woman goes looking for Mr. Goodbar. And she has
to go through all of the other Goodbar's to find him." I laughed and
was actually entertained at the though of it - sounded to me like a
Peyton Place (of course, not precisely) of this time. Very
After the film, I was in a trance over the violent ending. I realized that what our heroine had gone through was slowly committing suicide with her soul - the ending was evident. Sad, but evident.
I saw the movie about 50 times following since I was trying to find my own sexuality (without the drugs) and found it to be the only film that could be a connection for that time. I knew the wrongs and rights of the film and looked at it as an adoring for Diana Keaton, who was wonderful in the film. It is honest - raw and somewhat entertaining.
It continues to be an outline of the 70's for me along with the music. Kudos to Paramount for releasing it with such openness. It has been bashed allot - but who has not been for being brutally honest?
Theresa (Diane Keaton) is the daughter of a very rigid catholic father,
and has a serious trauma with a scoliosis she had due to a congenital
problem. When she was a teenager, she suffered a lot to heal the
scoliosis, being immobilized for one year after many surgeries. When
she graduates in teacher for deaf people, she decides to get free from
her father and to live alone in a rented apartment. She finds a job in
a specialized school, where she is a lovely and affectionate teacher
with her kids during the day. However, in the night, like Dr. Jeckyl
and Mr. Hyde, she searches for sexual freedom cruising bars, having sex
with the most different men, having a promiscuous and very low life.
James (William Atherton), is the only distinct man she meets and she
despises him. Her promiscuous life ends in a very tragic way.
I watched this movie in 1977 and I was very impressed with the role and the performance of Diane Keaton. In the same year, Diane Keaton was the star of "Annie Hall", and I found this actress fantastic, capable of acting in the most different roles. Unfortunately, "Looking For Mr. Goodbar" has never been released on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray in Brazil, and I have not had the chance to see this movie again. However, last month a cable TV channel presented it, I recorded it and yesterday I watched it again. The story is still good, but has aged. Although being a long movie, the reason why Theresa is promiscuous is not clear enough. There is oppression of her catholic family (specially her father), guilty problem due to the religion, there is the trauma of her congenital disease, explaining why she does not want to have babies, the sexual liberation of the woman in the 70's, but some explanation is missing. There is a scene that is very funny in the present days with AIDS, when Theresa laughs of James, because he used condom for having sex with her. Richard Gere has a performance very similar to his characters in 'American Gigolo' and 'Breathless', having the same movements of his body, hitting objects with his fingers like a drum etc. It is amazing the resemblance of his face at that time with the Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): 'À Procura de Mr. Goodbar' ('Looking For Mr. Goodbar')
Note: On 17 February 2015, I saw this movie again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(may contain spoilers.)
Displaced rage flashes across Diane Keaton's visage in her `love' scenes in the film. In half-shadows, in detached ambivalence, Keaton/Theresa Dunn chooses to embrace her hunger, and engages the audience in her spiritual annihilation. This is not a film about promiscuity, or the singles bar scene, or the `decadent' Seventies; those elements are settings and props, a backdrop for the unfolding of a much more interesting, emotionally violent internal war.
Judith Rossner's based-on-real-events makes its way to the screen largely intact in Richard Brook's dark film noir-ish take, despite the excising of the internal-monologue approach of the book. It's a glib, apt approach; the material has elements in common with `women's films' of the Thirties and Forties---narratively it details a woman who chooses a socially `unacceptable' method of living, largely out of disenfranchisement from her family and society, and the inevitable spiral through a dimly-lit Purgatory.
In those films, female destiny was decided by severe social delineations, determined by whether or not the male characters forgave social/sexual/economic transgressions; in `Goodbar', the era's different, and superficially the milieu has changed. It's the post-sexual revolution (as Richard Brooks hoarily points out in unsubtle references to the women's movement). The character's still straitjacketed, by her oppressive family structure and internal demons, and there (deceptively) appears a way out physically and psychically; new apartment, new life, a `room of one's own'. Theresa Dunn's freedom and self-determination will not go unpunished.
The first half-hour's riveting, because we see a young woman's transformation from naïve, emotionally hungry romantic to tough cynic. Even more chilling is that it's not entirely an act of will; in the face of an abusive father and a first love who treats her like a sexual cesspool, detachment becomes a weapon of survival. Brook's script adds greatly to the psychosexual claustrophobia of these moments, as it adheres so strongly to Theresa's consciousness that the spectator views not just what she experiences, but also what she imagines, desires, dreads. This appropriation of Theresa's thoughts and fantasies, woven into the structure of her physical existence, draws and binds the audience to her journey into Hell but is also problematic and disingenuous on Brook's part---as the film delineates her descent, Brooks' script appears to validate the integrity of her dilemma, but also implicates female sexual self-determination in her downfall. That is, Richard Brooks implies that Theresa's sexual freedom, her insistence on subverting traditional modes of feminine sexual behavior (in the film's `love' scenes she is frequently filmed on top, or on the right side of the screen, an unusual power-position for female characters in this context) is as much or more to blame than the mental damage sustained from her messy, classically dysfunctional upbringing. This is thematically the film's greatest weakness, the filmmakers' moral indecisiveness which severely undercuts the narrative thrust and focus of the film---who are we to blame, Theresa's emotionally screwy, perpetually in-denial family society for going down a moral spiral or is Theresa both protagonist/antagonist in this schematic arrangement?
Problematic, but this ambivalence and ambiguous thematic structure also makes this film infinitely more interesting. The anxiety provoked by these elements in conflict produces an unexpected, morbidly enticing drama. Most of the credit for this film's power goes to Diane Keaton's presence. Her work is perfectly modulated, at times repulsively real and raw, and at other times devastatingly poignant in the ways she lies to herself and others about the implications of her character's actions. She glows with dark energy, gradually becoming one with the film's descent into what seems like a long, long communion with Night. Keaton nearly single-handedly prevents the film from transmogrifying into an anti-feminist diatribe, by imbuing Theresa with qualities which seem infinitely flawed and human. Amazingly she does this without descending into dramatic grandstanding or exploiting her character's weaknesses. Flawed but full of conviction (even if it's misguided), seething with misdirected anger, Diane Keaton is overwhelming in the film's silent sequences, alone in Theresa's dim, cavernous apartment, suffocating in her loneliness. Regardless of how the writer/director or her fictional family chooses to judge her, it's in the amalgamation of moments like these (alone, in bed with just her pillow to gratify herself, no words are needed to show the turmoil she's feeling) that Keaton subverts the moralistic scheme of the film and shows us something infinitely more wonderful---a persona in conflict with herself, unable to find an easy resolution within and without her dimly lit surroundings. What the audience takes away are fragments of Theresa's ruptured psyche that add up to a very beguiling human drama. Keaton won the Oscar for the wrong film in 1977.
In the end, Theresa Dunn finds the resolution to her journey. It's horrific. It's even more of a shock, because by that point, the confused, morally disjointed film has gathered into a coherent portrait of a soul in transition. She's struggled, and does she earn her fate? Seen as a moral judgement on her `lifestyle', the climax might be seen as a `punishment' justified by the character's behavior and lack of morals. In a sense, it's true that the film offers up Theresa as an example of when Good Girls go Wrong and what happens when you're not what's construed as a `good woman' despite the goodies and freedoms that society periodically offers up.
An alternate reading of the resolution: Theresa finds her Animus, her male side embodied in a sexually ambiguous stranger who represents the impossibility of psychic reconciliation with the fragments of her divided spirit. Theresa exploits and uses men as physical revenge for her childhood and the psychic wounds inflicted by her father and first love, but in doing so creates a psychosexual monster of injudicious power.
Theresa meets, and embraces, her shadow.
Probably the biggest problem with this movie other than its
insistence that all men are either worthless sexual predators or
pathetic, near-impotent panderers is the fact that it has aged so
badly. In an age when a small army of women under 30 seem hell-bent on
doing all they can to turn their livers and septums to mush in as short
a time as possible, Diane Keaton's Theresa Dunn no longer comes across
as somebody out of the ordinary.
Diane Keaton gives a performance that is by turns both sensitive and irritating as her character revolves around her schizophrenic lifestyle. As a child, Dunn was encased in plaster, a result of scoliosis, and it seems that this is what compels her to take so many risks in her effort to find the kind of freedom she was denied as a kid both by her spell in traction and by a harsh, overbearing Catholic upbringing. She is full of love, as indicated by her relationship with the deaf children she teaches, but gives it in all the wrong ways, leading to encounters with equally warped characters. One of these is Richard Gere in the role that first brought him to Hollywood's attention and which serves as a kind of template for the role of Jesse in Jim McBride's ill-fated remake of Breathless. The other is Tom Berenger, a borderline psychopath tortured by his own homosexuality. Both are characters no right-thinking adult would want to get involved with, but Keaton's self-destructive personality draws her to them, and while you want her to break free from her sleazy night-life a part of you can't help thinking she's going to get what she deserves.
The problem with Dunn is that she engages the viewers' sympathy in her straight persona then keeps pushing them away with her self-indulgent excesses and sometimes callous treatment of those who love her most. Combined with the relentlessly depressing atmosphere of impending tragedy that hangs over the entire film, this makes Looking for Mr. Goodbar a difficult film to enjoy (or even watch) and one to which many people wouldn't wish to return.
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