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I read the book many years ago and I remember it as being quite good, hence the decision to seek out the film at my local video store. The plotline basically concerns a sexually promiscuous young women whose cruising in the New York bar scene in the 1970's for sex without any other type of emotional commitment leads to her demise.The film I think can't make up its mind on the reasons for her behaviour. The film appears to be quite disapproving of the sexually permissive disco/bar scene but then seems to suggest a whole range of reasons , conservative catholic upbringing,childhood illness for her particular behaviour.As someone who was too young to enjoy the sexual revolution of the 1970's I suspect the film is abit disengenuous in its socalled critique. Much of the sleeping around then I suspect , as it is today, is enjoyed by both parties and isn't quite of the desperately and totally emotionally uninvolved as portrayed by Diane Keaton's character cruising the bar scene. The characters both hers and her various male sleeping partners/protagnists don't seem to ring true.They men are by and large all creeps. She does have one suitor whose a half way decent guy, but even he resorts to stalking her and is quite pushy with his demands for her love..Incidentally part of the reason why the film doesn't quite ring true for me, is that such a attractive, articulate and successful young women would link up with such a disfunctional losers...even if she was only after casual affairs she seems to be slumming it with this lot... However critical I might seem, the film is worth seeking out..It is an interesting time-piece.Having been shot in the same year it was set it does have that seventies feel via locations,scenes and references that give it a real time capsule attitude. Richard Gere gives a performance of incendiary menace as a petty crim lover to the Diane Keaton character. The final scene where the teacher meets her demise is creatively shot via use of strobe lighting, and I loved the title montage of the film which is strangely haunting black and white stills of the film yet to be shown over the disco soundtrack which works suprisingly well...oh one more brickbat , probably more to do again with the attitudes of the time, the gay characters are shown as hysterical disfunctionals and her final nemesis is a psycopathic kept young man of an aging queen from the disco scene - though to be fair to the film most of the characters straight or gay are kinda screwed up. In summation an interesting failure,
Diane Keaton's brilliance cannot save this dark, depressing venture into
'70s hedonism laced with comically cliched Catholic guilt. While she turns
in what may be her most powerful performance, the characters in her
are one-note, laughingstock caricatures.
The deaf girl, Amy, cannot act. When Keaton happily announces they are having a memorable afternoon, it becomes painfully ironic when Amy cannot even muster a smile in agreement. Katherine, Theresa's glamorous sister, is wildly over the top, the "look at me; I'm such a bad, bad girl" neurotic drama queen who will make you leave a party. The other Dunns are a pathetic parade of stereotypes right down to the boozing, Virgin Mary statuette and Notre Dame jacket. Not all people who happen to be Irish-Catholic are so repugnant.
The major flaw, though, is lack of sympathy for Theresa. James is a decent man, so she's not drawn to his sensitivity, kindness and intelligence. Instead she prefers Tony, who is stupid, and Gary, who is evil. It is difficult to like a heroine who is so obviously driven toward self-annihilation.
If judged by her choices in men, Theresa hates herself more than she ever does her oppressive family. While what happens to her should never happen to anyone, Theresa is not a blameless victim; but rather a willing accessory to her own doomed and sordid fate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoiler Alert- for those who have never seen this movie,read below only if
Diane Keaton stars as an elementary school teacher who is obviously bored with her life so she decides to go out and join the bar scene of the 70's.She goes out to bars looking for action and even pretending to act cool with a drug dealer she doesnt know who gives her cocaine. She goes to gay bars ,does drugs without knowing what the hell she is getting herself into. She hangs out with Richard Gere who is a real creep and finally gets rid of him but she still cannot live without going out to bars . She lives in a cockroach infested apt in NYC and even in one scene she answers the door and opens it without even bothering to see who it is .It ends up being here friends who scare the hell out of her but it could have been a mugger,.
This is a very disturbing movie about one womans journey into the seedy bar scene of 1970's NYC. The bars she goes into are either gay or drug dealer hangouts ,she never goes anywhere halfway decent or for that matter safe. She also marches in a gay pride parade all drunked up and only her being a women saves her from violence,Tom Berenger plays a psychotic gay man who cannot accept the fact that hes gay.The last part of the movie has him telling his gay lover to get lost and he ends up in a bar where he almost beats up a gay guy who flirts with him. Then in comes Diane Keaton who just picks him up and takes him home New Years Eve.Now you know hes not going to get into her sexually and he tries to avoid having sex with her and she tells him to leave and he freaks out on her thinking the reason is that she knows hes gay ,noone trys to help her as she screams because she had locked her door with a chain.The writers really wrote her character well,I know that there are people exactly like Dianes Keatons character out there as I have met alot of them .She was very nieve,not smart and she paid for it with her life.This movie probably happened in real life to lots of people ,i mean lots of men and women got drawn into the bar scene of sex and drugs in the 70's and thats all they lived for.Some people still have no life outside the bars. Also regarding a previous comment made about the scene in which she is being stabbed and murdered.She is not getting into it and moaning ,he sodomizes her and at the same time starts stabbing her repeatedly.What you hear at first is her in pain from being sodomized and then her gasping as she is strangled and stabbed.It was a very shocking scene and it ends with her being left there to die. Not for the squeemish , disturbing and gripping.
This has got to be one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen! It totally creeped me out. I think I must have missed the point they were trying to get across because it went right over my head. It didn't really make sense and it seemed like the scenes were just pasted together in any random order. I only watched it because I enjoy Diane Keaton and she was good in it I guess but her character was so annoying!I have to say the only parts of the movie I liked were when she was teaching the kids! They were so cute! So there was just something about it that made it very confusing. It just seemed that all of a sudden she was this huge drug addict. And what was with the ending? It ended so abruptly. That was the most disturbing part of the whole movie though. I have to say Richard Gere did look pretty hot in this too! And how cute was LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow??? So I would not recomend this to anyone unless you want to be totally confused .
I saw this film on it's very first public showing in Seattle in 1977. After the extremely violent ending- the audience filed out so quietly that I have never seen such a response. A real shocker ending - to say the least.
When I first saw this movie, I thought it was powerfully acted, and I still
think that Diane Keaton won her Oscar for Annie Hall in part because this
movie showed her in a completely different light.
Still, as I grow older, I have far less respect for the film. It is gratuitously nihilistic, and the great angst I saw in it 20 years ago now appears to be a bunch of cheap manipulation of the audience. We may have started with sympathy for the lead character, but she only has self-pity and anger. People like that really are quite dangerous to be around in real life.
Certainly no masterpiece, but an important & relevant film-- Keaton is always worth watching, & the director does an excellent job of making discos & nightlife seem dreary & meaningless...
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) Dir: Richard Brooks After a couple of turkeys, Keaton returns in 1977 with this classic chiller. She plays a school teacher by day and a good-time, wanna party, let's do the single bar crawl girl at night. Along the way she meets Richard Gere and that's when things really start to get out of control. Keaton went against type with this role and gained considerable prestige as a "serious" actress. Looking for love in all the wrong places. Though the movie is somewhat dated, the surprise ending is still a shocker.
I just watched this film on TV for the first time...
It captures the period quite well but I doubt I shall ever watch it again.
The sole purpose of the only black male is to provide a somewhat one-dimensional and threatening presence and to dish out some violence to the Richard Gere character.
In typical Hollywood style, the gay man is a murderous psycho (makes a change from being a suicide statistic or murder victim I suppose) and the 'loose' woman must pay for her sins by being murdered.
I didn't find the sex and nudity offensive. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Richard Gere in a jockstrap. But, I found the out-dated and flawed representations offensive.
The book, by Judith Rossner, from which this movie is drawn is a bit grittier and has less in the way of sophisticated explanations. Rossner's heroine is driven by sex as much as by a desire for independence or anything as noble as that. There's no scoliosis in the book, and it's pointless in the movie. What does the disorder add to the plot? Is it supposed to be symbolic of the way Kathleen is warped? In the movie it makes no sense because she's presented as honest, naive, giving, and overall rather straightforward in her needs. Warpedness in the movie is supposed to be in the eye of the beholder. There isn't much in the way of her "straight" life in the book either. She doesn't spend a great deal of time lavishing love on her hearing-impaired students. The movie is well photographed and well acted. Diane Keaton was at her most beautiful. Her rear end is equally attractive. There is quite a bit of simulated sex in the movie but it is shot mostly in darkness and arty silhouettes and only brief nudity. There is, sad to say, not a decent male figure in the movie. Her first lover, her married professor, exploits her, boffing when he's in the mood and using her to type his papers, then discards her like an old Kleenex. Richard Gere begins as a charming figure in a bufoonish kind of way, but his demands are increasingly neurotic and unsupportable, and he's clearly dangerous. Gere seems the embodiment of physical energy, always pounding on things and leaping about. (He does a demented dance with some kind of luminous cutting tool.) He's also a thief and a doper who introduces her to coke. Her father is a grim, old-fashioned Irish patriarch, well played by Richard Kiley, who lives with Kathleen's mother in a shabby working-class house, drinks, disapproves of "bra-burners" and his daughter's life style and bids her farewell as she strikes out on her own with, "You'll never make it on your own!" The social worker, a reasonably sensitive guy, is played as someone with antiquarian values, a practically impotent fool who believes in love and thinks sex is an important issue. She complains that he's taken her out five or six times without even kissing her. (He's so stupid he wants to wear a condom.) She finds him ridiculous, irritating, and ultimately depressing. The last guy she takes up with, Tom Berenger, is the last guy she takes up with. I wish there were a bit more in the way of modulation in these message movies. As a message movie, this one is pretty depressing. Men are insensitive and brutal or they are weak. Women who try living independent lives are crushed. Some message. Oh, a curious footnote. Several sociological studies were done of behavior in singles bars during the 1970s. The pickup procedure is as highly ritualized as the mating dance of peacocks. The first contact between couples is established visually and is usually but not always initiated by the male. Almost always it is the male who initiates a state of talk. And it is almost always the woman who makes the first physical contact. The process is a protracted negotiation between people who are pretty much equals, ending in a successful joining or not, rather than death. Art should imitate life more often.
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