Pathbreaking, affecting film about a young woman coming into her own as a person and artist
In "Girlfriends," first-time writer-director Claudia Weill created a compelling depiction of a woman look at a woman growing, awkwardly and not without pain, into her adult life--that is, the life of an independent woman and artist in New York City. This film also offers what is inarguably one of cinema's most honest and insightful looks at the complex bonds between women, detailing with extraordinary sensitivity (and bits of quirky humor) the shifts, both small and seismic, that occur when one of the halves of a sustaining heterosexual female friendship effectively "leaves" to get married. The cinema verite quality one finds here may be in part a reflection of the tight budget and inexperience of a novice filmmaker, but it also gives the film an utterly compelling texture, something of the raw, uneven fabric of real life. Melanie Mayron (later "Melissa" on the ABC-TV series "ThirtySomething") gives an earnest, convincing, and touching portrayal of budding photographer Susan Weinblatt, a twenty-something woman learning to find her balance, to be true to herself, navigate a welter of complicated relationships, to deal with both loneliness and intimacy, and to come into her own as an artist. The film includes wonderful turns by Eli Wallach, playing the rabbi who oversees the bar mitzvahs Susan photo, and Viveca Lindfors as a New York gallery owner.
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