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Homage to Ingmar Bergman in this family drama involving a fashionable Long Island interior designer who tries to impose her overbearing, critical standards on her husband and her three grown daughters. The film is a realistic look at the relationships among one artistically-oriented family; one daughter is a successful writer; the second is looking for an artistic outlet; and the third is an actress. The mother has been deserted by her husband, their father. She thinks and hopes they may reconcile, but she soon learns that he has other thoughts that circle about a new acquaintance, a woman who has had two husbands and is still lively. Written by
First serious dramatic film of Woody Allen and as such Allen's first film which was not a comedy. Woody Allen was known for comedy, and wanted to break the mold by having no humor at all in this picture. At one point the family is gathered around the table laughing at a joke which Arthur has just told, but we never hear the joke. See more »
When Renata stands up on the beach, she is wearing black pants, not khaki as in the scene. See more »
I can't seem to shake the real implication of dying. It's terrifying. The intimacy of it embarrasses me.
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to me more than just a Bergman homage, it's deeply felt, and superbly acted, tragic theater
It has been an easy observation &/or criticism of Interiors, Woody Allen's first break from acting and comedy as a filmmaker, is an homage of the bleak, spellbinding films of despair of Ingmar Bergman's films. It's not without a point that critics note this; homages of Bergman have shown in many of his films (Love & Death, Husbands & Wives, Deconstructing Harry, etc). But one must not neglect that if Woody connects to Bergman, Bergman connects with the masters of naturalistic drama like Ibsen and Strindberg, and that as a writer Woody has been influenced by dozens and dozens of authors of literature and theater. With Interiors his script and direction is is observant, and is able to get under the skin of a viewer by giving the characters (under the upper-class veneer) attributes that aren't too oblique or cold. It is definitely not one of the Woody films I would recommend to someone first getting into his films- the comedies are best for that- but it is a great start to the sort of section of films that Woody does (there are two I consider- his entertaining, sophisticated comedies, which he often is the star of, being one, and the other being his dramas).
One thing is hard to dispute, the cast that is assembled is all pro, who physically look the parts and emotionally sink into them as real people, not caricatures. Flyn, Joey, and Renata are daughters of a wealthy (would-be) lawyer (EG Marshall) and her perfectionist, needy, and mentally troubled homemaker Eve (Geraldine Page, perhaps her best). After their separation, Eve tries to make it on her own, still controlling, still clinging to the children who will stay around her (which is Joey), but has a breakdown and attempted suicide. Soon after this, Marshall's character finds love elsewhere (played by Maureen Stapleton, also a very good performance, a fascinating outsider in the midst of the family's reaching for real love and happiness). This brings even more turmoil on the sisters, who each deal with their own emotional/psychological problems with themselves and their significant others.
It's hard to point out who's performances are the 'best' in the film, as each contribute something different and intense. Keaton is particularly interesting as a writer with a drunken writer husband, who can't seem to come to grips with herself amid the looming presence of her mother. Hurt's character is similar in this vein, but dealing with something a little more existential, I think. Most of the characters- curiously not Eva (who, for this reason, is a little more affecting and arresting in her quiet, disturbed qualities)- talk out what they are thinking or feeling, and because of this the audience gets clear ideas of who these people are and their struggles, but also leaves room for interpretation, for analysis. Even Stapleton's character is hard to judge or classify outright- she is the quasi-intruder, but she doesn't mean to be, she's just fallen for the Marshall's character. And, like the best of Bergman and other naturalistic theater greats, Woody gives long, striking, extremely well-written passages/monologues of dialog.
Lest I forget to mention the incalculable contribution of Gordon Willis. Responsible for the cinematography of all of Woody's late 70's/early 80's films, he helps to bring out the intricate, detailed, and sometimes obvious angles and prolonged shots of the rooms of the houses and apartments, giving minimal or next-to-no light in the darker-themed scenes, and really giving a boost to the subject matter. Some may see this and almost take it for parody, and it could have been if the actors played it just a step wrong or if the writing wasn't as honest. But by the last shot of the film, the three sisters in profile and in complete mourning/contemplation, one senses Willis bringing out the full-on artist of Woody. It's a beautiful shot, a little self-aware, but engaging after a film that has done that just right.
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