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Why do Woody Allen films have to be funny?
canadude23 June 2004
It appears that many critics find the idea of a Woody Allen drama unpalatable. "Interiors" gets slammed as a forced, awkward, heavy-handed and cheapened imitation of Bergman (most noticeably "Cries and Whispers") and usually discussed in context of "Annie Hall" that preceded it and "Manhattan" that followed.

Well, "Annie Hall" was funny as hell and I love "Manhattan" - it's directed with an authority that I don't think was matched in another Woody Allen film ("Crimes and Misdemeanors" had touches of such visual elegance). With the exception, of course, of "Interiors" which preceded it.

"Interiors" is Woody Allen putting aside his neuroses and directing with unshakable confidence. Granted, Bergman has already cleared the path for him to some degree, but "Interiors" stands on its own. Visually and aurally it's a quiet film, permeated with silences, dark off-white colors, beige and grays mostly, despair and sadness. It's the existential hell and it's a lot quieter than the descriptive terms make it seem.

Narratively, "Interiors" has the fluidity and grace of any other of Allen's more successful films. Like the multi-character "Hannah and Her Sisters" or the parallelism of "Crimes and Misdemeanors" the stories, relationships and situations rise and build naturally.

"Interiors" is, essentially, the story of an upper-class family shattered, if not exposed and tested, by the divorce of the parents and the ensuing collapse of the mother. The title, of course, refers not only to the profession of the mother who is arguably the central character and definitely the emotional and psychological catalyst for the events of "Interiors," but also works on a metaphorical level. Interiors that Allen implies are those that shatter when the mother, phenomenally played by Geraldine Page, is forced to face the separation from her husband. The neat world constructed by her starts to crumble revealing not only the painful truth to her, but also to her daughters who are greatly affected by this as well. The truth, of course, is that nothing was perfect in the first place - the interiors were simply created to shelter from the reality of family crisis, bottled-up emotion, undue expectations, selfishness, synthetic love and conflict.

The conflicts that arise, or rather expose themselves, bring to light themes that are quite frankly very Allenesque. Allen explores the burdens of existence, namely the inevitability of death (and the question of the immortality of art), loneliness, the failure of relationships (and thus violation of trust), and the search for meaning in life. "Interiors," however, differs from his other films in that it takes a distinctly psychological approach to these problems. It does so by not exposing its themes through "situations" (like Woody Allen finding out that he might be dying in "Hannah and her Sisters" and attempting suicide), but rather through realistic psychological observation of familial relations - particularly mother-daughter ones.

Like many Bergman films, "Interiors" is psychological to the core, even though I don't recall a single shrink in the film. It's also dramatic and quieter than all other Allen films. Finally, it would be a shame not to mention that, while obviously very Bergmanesque, the film is seeped in the atmosphere of many Chekhov plays, bordering on the psychological darkness of Ibsen. "Interiors" is the American film version of early-20th century European theatrical drama - the problems of the well-off, upper-class families not being able to survive social, emotional and psychological instability that they themselves contributed to creating. We are talking of people with intellectual and monetary resources - resources that we treat as essential to happiness. "Interiors" like many of the darker of Allen's comedies, is a quietly terrifying question-mark - it is directed at our lives and our values. And the answers are nothing, but perturbing. Little to laugh about really.
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Another anthropological glimpse of our times.
J.P.-34 August 1999
This is one of Woody Allen's strong and quite films that, like most, is multi-layered. On the surface layer it presents an inside look at a dysfunctional family that is coming to terms with themselves, the divorce of their parents, and finally the death of their mother. Under this quite, but strikingly sorrowful first layer is a second layer of insight of considerably more importance. The underlayer is about the interaction of the principal characters and how they attempt to manipulate each other in generally destructive patterns that are even now becoming more and more prevalent in our socioeconomic culture. Not surprisingly, after a second or third look, this film should be included as part of the curriculum for medical residents working towards the specialty of Psychiatry. It is definitely a film about the destructive and continuing decaying family structure with which we are becoming more and more aware. It is not a film about morality, so important an issue in the 1990's, but about the simple misunderstanding of parenting in families that leave so many in our society emotionally crippled. The result is seen in the three daughters, representing the generations of bored and depressed young and middle aged, middle class people that spend great amounts of time and money trying to prove to themselves that they are happy and cope with the idea of real happiness that has eluded them. Of the films that will survive as anthropological glimpses of the 20th and possibly 21st Centuries in the United States, this film will be on the short list.
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A large ensemble cast, written, filmed, and directed with quiet force....
secondtake24 January 2011
Interiors (1978)

This is one of those dark, serious, realistic personal dramas that critics shook their heads at in 1978. It wasn't because it wasn't good--it's frankly a brilliant combination of the big three: acting, writing, photography. It was because it was directed (and written) by Woody Allen. And Woody Allen is funny, right? Critics at the time, however, to their credit, gave the film a fair reading, and for three brilliant excerpt of period reviews, I recommend the Wikipedia entry on the movie.

So watch this film thinking it's by someone else, if you have to. take it in on its own subtle terms as three sisters watch their own deficiencies bloom when their parents abruptly separate. There is some familiar territory here, actors Allen has turned to many times (including Diane Keaton, of course, who he was once, in 1970, involved with). The world is one that might actually be parallel to his own, not Jewish New York but rather a highly educated literary set with money and ambitions, but deeply steeped in the arts.

In short, "Interiors" was and is appreciated but always with a feeling that it isn't quite complete, that it isn't what it could have been. It's easy to see that it is unremittingly dour, almost to perversion. And you might say that it plays the Bergman card too hard without overt appropriation (which makes it merely derivative, that worst of echoes). It is fair, I suppose, to say that Allen really has succeeded, but not in the remarkable ways he had succeeded so clearly in his earlier films, including his previous nugget, "Annie Hall," which is in my view his first true drama, but which has the benefit of also being funny.

Or you can just sit back and take it in for what it does do so well, letting the interior lives of these people seem as shattered and pathetic as they really seem. The photography by Gordon Willis is admirable for being beautiful and inventive without being distracting. Allen and Willis make clear this intention with opening shots, a series of fixed camera views of rooms, and then views out windows, all framed with classic proportions, but sequenced to pull you in. But look how often the camera follows two people as they walk and talk, either up close in front of them, or along the beach through an irregular snow fence. Its pace and "tastefulness" of the photography almost seems designed by one of the main characters, the troubled interior decorator mother played with uncanny effectiveness by Geraldine Page.

Expect nothing in particular here except a tour-de-force that works on its own depressing terms.
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One of Woody Allen's most underrated films
TheLittleSongbird9 March 2014
Interiors is one of the most divisive films of one of the most love-it-hate-it directors. For me Interiors is not one of Allen's best films(Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Manhatten, Hannah and Her Sisters, Husbands and Wives) with some dialogue monologues that ramble on a bit too much, but when it comes to his most underrated films Interiors is very high on the list. It is very easy to see why people wouldn't like it with how bleak it is and how it's different from much of what Allen has done, but those are hardly reasons to dismiss Interiors because apart from the occasional rambling it is a great film. It is very stylishly shot with good use of locations, probably Allen's second most visually striking 70s film after Manhattan. Like Annie Hall, there's no music score and that's not a bad thing at all, Interiors is a very intimate and intricate film and having no music added to that quality. Much of the dialogue is full of insight and pathos, to me it did have dramatic weight and it is one of Allen's most honest films along with Husbands and Wives. The screenplay is not "funny" as such and is not as quotable as Annie Hall, but it wasn't ever meant to be. The story is paced deliberately but how Interiors was written and performed ensures that it isn't dull, it was very moving(personally it didn't topple into melodrama) and layered storytelling- didn't notice any convolutions- deftly handled. Allen directs assuredly in one of his more restrained directing jobs. The characters are neurotic and not the most likable, but are written and performed with such compelling realism that in the end there is some sympathy felt for them. The cast was a talented one in the first place, and none of them disappoint. Especially good are Geraldine Page, in one of her best performances, in very frightening and heart-breakingly tormented form and Mary Beth Hurt, the centrepiece of the story and is very affecting. Maureen Stapleton is a breath of fresh air as the most lively character- an anti thesis to the rest of the characters but not an out of place one- and E.G. Marshall brings a great deal of quiet dignity. Diane Keaton when it comes to Woody Allen films is better in Annie Hall and Manhattan but plays a purposefully shrill character with gusto. Richard Jordan and Sam Waterson are fine. Kristin Griffith is good too but her part seemed underwritten. All in all, won't be for everybody but a great film from personal perspective and one of Woody Allen's most underrated. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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great film
kyle_furr9 February 2004
John Waters said that if this film was made under a Swedish pseudonym, they would of called it a masterpiece. Woody Allen was only able to get a film like this made after he won all those Oscars for Annie Hall. Everyone is great in here and it's nice that there's no soundtrack. This is one of Woody Allen's best films.
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A true masterpiece
member328511 February 2004
I do not praise films simply because other people or critics love it; I also don't praise films simply because other people or critics hate it. I really do think for myself, so you can take it as an assured commendation when I say that this is one of the best melodramas ever put on film. I'm not a pseudo-intellectual; I don't think Woody Allen is perfect, and I'm not out to impress anyone with my taste. I simply loved the movie - the script, the visuals, the acting... all touched me deeply and moved me nearly to tears, which happens to me only about once for every hundred movies I see. People have complained that the movie is morbid, self-indulgent, that the characters are shallow; but I think that all three of these elements actually contribute to the film. Morbidity is a part of life, and this film is not an attempt to cover up the sad truths of existence with cheap laughs or explosions; self-indulgence does not preclude quality, and many of the best films ever made have been self-indulgent. And the characters exhibit both shallowness and depth, just like real people... I think that mostly people who criticize this film either don't have the attention span to relate to a slower movie, or they lack a certain empathy with those who suffer, or they simply expect every Allen film to be a comedy. If you can get past those hangups, though, you might just find that you love this movie too.
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Sick psyches
moonspinner5518 March 2006
The three adult daughters of a quiet attorney and an imperious matriarch are alternately offended and benumbed by their parents' divorce and their father's "hasty" decision to remarry (leaving mama to fend for herself, probably something she needs but does not enjoy--there's no one to boss around). Bergmanesque drama from writer-director Woody Allen, who does not appear or even feel present (Pauline Kael of the New Yorker claims his neuroses have been transposed to the mother-character, but I never felt like I was watching something created by Woody Allen). All the actors are quite fine playing characters who are high-strung, uptight, woebegone (yet oddly, never intentionally comical), yet the flatness of the dialogue and the listlessness of Mary Beth Hurt's frequent narration may strain some viewers' patience. Some of the wordy sequences tend to ramble, and what words! Allen has a fixation with non-textbook terms for multiple abnormal psychoses; and no matter how educated Hurt's character is supposed to be, I had trouble swallowing some of the high-brow talk in her third-act put-down of Geraldine Page. The movie--seriously well-scrubbed, sterile and somber--has many conflicts and personality quirks which feel real and intricate, and Page's high society dementia is riveting (alternately, Maureen Stapleton's gaudy low-class is also superb). The three sisters remain enigmas that confound and confuse (each other and the viewer) but Diane Keaton's gritty reserve as the eldest daughter is the one I gravitated towards. Not a masterpiece (as some critics claimed), but certainly not a dud. It's Woody's art-house gambol, a dark one, and it leaves behind a fascinating imprint. *** from ****
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Woody Allen's best drama
preppy-326 May 2006
Allen's first really serious film plays like an Bergman film. It's a dead serious study of a very dysfunctional family.

The father (E.G. Marshall) wants a trial separation from his wife (Geraldine Page). This totally destroys her life but her grown children try to help. One daughter (Diane Keaton) keeps giving her false hope that her husband will return. Meanwhile she has issues with her husband (Richard Jordan)--he finds her very condescending about his writing and she reacts with anger. Another daughter (Mary Beth Hurt) tries to get her mother to face reality. She has no direction in life herself and her husband (Sam Waterston) wants a child. A third daughter (Kristin Griffith) barely figures in this.

Somber, bleak, quiet and stark. Full of angry, unsatisfied people--the only humor is provided by Maureen Stapleton who shows up late in the movie. This film contains many emotionally vicious moments. It's unpleasant sometimes but you can't stop watching. The dialogue is great--full of fascinating insights into what the characters are feeling. Occasionally the actors sound like they're giving speeches instead of talking but that's rare. Marshall seems ill at ease in his role but everyone else is dead on target. Especially good are Page who is frightening--you can see her trying not to feel and control everything at the same time. Keaton is just superb--one of her best ever dramatic performances. A highlight is the last sequence between Hurt and Page.

The film sometimes seems over-directed--everything is so precise and ordered but it fits the tone of the movie. Also the ending is a little too pat and Griffith is given nothing to do--I often wonder what she was doing in this.

Still this is an exceptional drama. It's not for everyone--it may be too bleak for most people but I think it's Allen's best drama. A 10 all the way.
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As Dark as it Gets
Chimale10255 May 2004
This is one of those films that when you recommend, you should also warn.It is a very mature work about a very sick and warped family. It is also a very beautifully realized piece of filmmaking. The only real complaint I have about it is that it wasn't recorded in stereo or surround. Since Woody Allen is deaf in one ear, I guess he doesn't care. Thank God, he isn't color blind. Geraldine Page is absolutely devastating as the suffocating wife as she creates the woman of limited imagination and total self importance who strangles the joy of living out of her immediate family. She is a pathetic villain whose sick arrogance is the bane of every one she touches with her sterile iciness. This is a cautionary tale about what mental illness can do if left unchecked and untreated. It is also Woody Allen doing Bergman like Stanley Donen doing Hitchcock in Charade, not a lesser film than Bergman, just an American take on the same kind of situation. Bergman is not as good as Bergman. Every Good filmmaker gets elevated to such outrageous levels of hype in this disturbingly stupid era of 100 best lists that a lot of very good movies get ignored and filmmakers of previous eras are treated like trash, so that a self promoting cretin like Tarantino whose films are all style and absolutely zero substance can be lionized by a bunch of film school educated idiotic critics. This is not a must see, but it is an important film for the film scholar. As much as Enchanted April is life affirming, this one is life threatening. Talked to death has never been done better.
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Interior Surfaces
redman-1127 March 2002
There was a Laraine Newman Saturday Night Live skit in which she plays a ditzy stewardess who bakes a peach cobbler for her Beverly Hills boyfriend. "Look," the boyfriend's mother remarks, "The shiksa's baked us a Presbyterian Pie!" Ladies and Gents, this is Woody Allen's Presbyterian Pie. In Interiors, we see (but only through his direction, for once) Allen on stilts attempting to reach the stature of a truly great director, Ingmar Bergman. It's interesting to think that, while Bergman is said to be one of Allen's favorite directors, so much of the Swede's influence, at least in this movie, seems to have proved indigestible, or incomprehensible, to Woody. At least that's the only way I can explain the clumsy, aping, pastiche-like quality to the to the long, drawn-out silences, and the improbable intellibabble dialogue. I live in a college town, and I never sat through a dinner like that. Geraldine Page makes what was, at that time, a rare appearance as an ice-grey-clad snow queen in her "ice palace:" in Allen's sex-obsessed, Freudian universe, her problems stem from this frigidity first, and the same lack of any real feeling extends to her daughters. I would suggest that not only has this character lost her life-it seems to have been stolen from her in some mysterious way by her husband and daughters-but the character itself, down to mannerisms and hairstyle, is simply a late Bibi Andersson impersonation, and as such is enough to throw even the most avid student of films into a tailspin, since the character doesn't derive so much from the plot, such as it is, as from the director/writer's idea of what a Bergmanesque matriarch should look and sound like. So there is no real explanation for her actions, or her character. Ms. Page's Oscar nomination for the role can be traced to the rarity of her film roles, and her stage reputation, coupled with Hollywood's obsessive need to legitimize itself as Real Theater. Diane Keaton, Mary Beth Hurt, and Sam Waterston give delectably pained and studied performances. There is much sighing, clenching of jaws and twisting of heads, as if the characters' neuroses had somehow translated themselves into virulent forms of neuralgic palsy. They can't think the cricks out of their necks, however, just as they can't make the dialogue sound real. This movie was a step forward for Allen, in that normally his characters did little more than talk, copulate, think about it, and talk some more. Here they cut out the sex part and simply think, think, and talk and talk. About nothing you or I would be the least bit interested in. Since Allen, in long view, seems to be something of an anomaly, a deep thinker inside a basically shallow person, the characters say things like (of someone's cologne): "It permeates the house." Honestly, has anyone ever sat in your presence and used the word "permeates" in conversation? But what can you expect of characters who show more emotion over the breaking of a vase than they do while fending off being raped, attending their father's wedding, or their mother's funeral? And, notice: every single review of this film you'll ever read mentions that vase: it's almost the only thing that happens in this film. Maureen Stapleton, as others have mentioned, is the salvation of this movie, and as a "vulgarian," is completely outdone (probably unintentionally) by Page: what could be more vulgar than smashing the prayer candles in a church, or appearing at the scene of your ex-husband's wedding in order to commit suicide? I have to admit, I was really rooting for the old girl to catch that undertow, since the gaspipe hadn't done the job. I vote for typing this movie as a kind of fantasy, one where a New York comic is transformed into a Northern European auteur, making yet another memorable film-which this film, some 20 years after the buzz has worn off, simply is not. Keep trying, Woody, but try to be more like yourself.
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Wooddy Allen at his darkest, also at his most beautiful
Mutoto9 January 2017
Interiors is often mentioned as Woody Allen's most serious film and for good reason. Humour, even dark humour, is practically absent from 'Interiors', as if Allen was trying to tell the world that he could embrace melodrama as genuinely as with comedy. His stylistic changes caused a lot of controversy at the time of release, but all these years after, what you have here is an amazing script, a very rigorous direction and as usual in Woody's films, a superb cast. All of the characters hide a lot more than what they show, their feelings, their fears, their frustrations. Never was the sense of loss as crushing as in 'Interiors', with no room for comfort. An amazing film to include among Allen's most accomplished works.
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to me more than just a Bergman homage, it's deeply felt, and superbly acted, tragic theater
MisterWhiplash8 August 2005
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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I collect the action figures
douglas lally8 June 2006
When I was little my parents took me along to the theater to see Interiors. It was one of many movies I watched with my parents, but this was the only one we walked out of. Since then I had never seen Interiors until just recently, and I could have lived out the rest of my life without it. What a pretentious, ponderous, and painfully boring piece of 70's wine and cheese tripe. Woody Allen is one of my favorite directors but Interiors is by far the worst piece of crap of his career. In the unmistakable style of Ingmar Berman, Allen gives us a dark, angular, muted, insight in to the lives of a family wrought by the psychological damage caused by divorce, estrangement, career, love, non-love, halitosis, whatever. The film, intentionally, has no comic relief, no music, and is drenched in shadowy pathos. This film style can be best defined as expressionist in nature, using an improvisational method of dialogue to illicit a "more pronounced depth of meaning and truth". But Woody Allen is no Ingmar Bergman. The film is painfully slow and dull. But beyond that, I simply had no connection with or sympathy for any of the characters. Instead I felt only contempt for this parade of shuffling, whining, nicotine stained, martyrs in a perpetual quest for identity. Amid a backdrop of cosmopolitan affluence and baked Brie intelligentsia the story looms like a fart in the room. Everyone speaks in affected platitudes and elevated language between cigarettes. Everyone is "lost" and "struggling", desperate to find direction or understanding or whatever and it just goes on and on to the point where you just want to slap all of them. It's never about resolution, it's only about interminable introspective babble. It is nothing more than a psychological drama taken to an extreme beyond the audience's ability to connect. Woody Allen chose to make characters so immersed in themselves we feel left out. And for that reason I found this movie painfully self indulgent and spiritually draining. I see what he was going for but his insistence on promoting his message through Prozac prose and distorted film techniques jettisons it past the point of relevance. I highly recommend this one if you're feeling a little too happy and need something to remind you of death. Otherwise, let's just pretend this film never happened.
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Boring convoluted drivel.
Aussie Stud18 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
There are no excuses for this trite and excruciating examination into the lives of a mentally and emotionally imbalanced family, poorly served up as a "serious film".

Watching "Interiors" is like watching a painful therapy session of the disintegration of a dysfunctional family behind one-way glass. You as the viewer, have no say about the things that they do. At times, the film goes at such slow pace, it's like watching paint dry.

There really isn't much of a plot here. Critics and 'high intellects' may try and dress this up in praise and fancy words, but when you remove all the frills and fancy wrapping, there's not much left but an empty dusty room with a few dead flies.

The plot (or what there is of it), concerns a recently separated wealthy couple (E.G. Marshall and Geraldine Page), their three spoilt brat daughters who are now grown up (Mary Beth Hurt, Diane Keaton and Kristin Griffith), their spouses (Richard Jordan and Sam Waterson) and their father's new lover and wife-to-be (Maureen Stapleton).

That's the plot. Geraldine Page, in her most boring and one-dimensional role throughout her elegant film history, parades around on the screen in New York socialite fashions, murmuring constantly like a blithering idiot about designs and colors while clinging to a false and rather stupid hope that E.G. Marshall will return to her.

E.G. Marshall on the other hand has been driven away by her psychotic isolation and crumbling dementia, into the arms of a 'lower class' lady, portrayed by the always dependable and talented Maureen Stapleton. Why Stapleton has always shone in 'supporting roles' and never a main one is beyond me. She totally stole the movie here.

She appears in one scene wearing a striking red dress, clashing against the sterile, antiseptic and clinical tones that Page applied to the beach house where she once lived. As artistic Woody Allen may have intended this vision to be, it was the only scene in this entire trash that actually made me appreciate anything about this movie.

The daughters themselves are on an entirely different page altogether. Not one of them were worth feeling any bit sympathetic for. They were all self-indulged, spoilt, egotistical vile brats that made you wish very bad things upon them. Mary Beth Hurt's character was the worst. She was just a very disgusting and ugly being, revolting on the inside and not very attractive on the out. She spends most of her time pacing back and forth spouting wit and wisdom like she were quoting from the book of high intellect itself (seriously, as someone else pointed out, I have never heard ANYONE talk like she does in this movie).

Diane Keaton is surprisingly wasted in an unsympathetic role where she feels that Mary Beth Hurt is the favorite daughter and that she herself is just a foil to absorb all of her mother's misfortunes and bad luck. Whenever her mother suffers a nervous breakdown, Diane Keaton receives the brunt of it. Whenever her mother needs to complain about whether or not their father will be driven back into her arms, Diane Keaton receives the brunt of it. It never ends. Keaton herself, is supposed to be some sort of a struggling poet with a one-hit-wonder author for a spouse. Between the two of them, they sit around waxing fancy words and witty dialect, you're not sure whether you've just stumbled upon a re-enactment of the last days of Socrates.

The third daughter (Kristin Griffith) is the youngest. She is a struggling actress relegated to third-rate television shows. She is barely around, hence the reason why Keaton and Hurt receive most of their mother's anguish. When she does make an appearance, she doesn't offer anything to the film, other than to appear in a ridiculous scene where she is nearly raped by Richard Jordan's character during a drunken confrontation.

For about an hour and a half, Keaton, Hurt and Page spend most of the time talking out of their behinds concerning their feelings and anguish, about why they are the way they are and how screwed up their lives are. Hurt's character especially is the most grating, as an unemployed no-hoper who takes out all of her misfortunes on her poor deranged mother and anyone else who has the misfortune of being around to listen to her whine and whine and whine.

My hopes were brightened when Maureen Stapleton enters the picture. She is a kind lady caught in the middle of this psychotic mess, along with E.G. Marshall who is rather clueless to his children's unbalanced emotions and their despise towards both him and their mother. I actually never grasped why they were so angry. They didn't have a poor upbringing, their parents gave them everything they ever wanted (except maybe a hug?), and yet they're convinced that it's the end of the world and that their lives have been screwed up forever. Give me a break!

The worst part about all of this is the fact that despite all the anger, anguish, hopeless despair and sadness, Woody Allen manages to drag it out for nearly two hours (and it feels like it too, every second of every minute). But between every over-exaggerated emotion that is acted out, there is at least a 10 minute boring part in the middle that you have to sit through.

That is how the DVD should have been made. Each chapter could be skipped via 'scene of emotion' (ie. Chapter 1 - When Mary Beth Hurt screams. Chapter 2 - When Diane Keaton wails about why she's got it so bad. Chapter 3 - When Mary Beth Hurt whines about, etc.)

There is small satisfaction in the final scenes where Geraldine Page's character expires by taking a walk into the ocean, but other than that - I was so glad when the closing credits appeared. The movie just never seems to stop. There really is no pleasure in watching "Interiors", unless you get your kicks out of watching rich dysfunctional families cry about why the world is so unfair.

Please. It may be the year 2004, but I can guarantee you that times weren't THAT different in 1978. This movie is an exercise in patience. The acting is overdone and the direction is just cheesy. Woody overdoes the 'artsy fartsy' crap by trying to see how many times he can artfully shoot a scene with the heads of the three sisters in the one scene. It's laughable really, and that's the only slightly amusing thing about this boring drivel.

How this film got all those Oscar nominations and critical applause is beyond me. It's almost like the critics felt that if they didn't praise this movie, they would be thought of as either "un-hip" or they "just didn't get it". Sad really.

My Rating - 2 out of 10
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All these women cry and whisper on Long Island
Galina18 May 2007
"Interiors" (1978) – is the first Woody Allen's attempt to create a straight drama film after the series of hilarious comedies ("Bananas", "Everything you always wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask", "Sleeper") and one of his most famous dramedies, "Annie Hall". "Interiors" is Allen's dissection of an upper middle class family in crisis. The story is not original. Arthur (E.G. Marshall), the husband of a Long Island interior designer Eve (Geraldine Page), demanding and imperious, and father of their three grown daughters (Diane Keaton, Marybeth Hurt and Kristin Griffith), informs his wife that he wanted a trial separation. She hopes that it is temporary but soon learns that there is another woman involved, (Maureen Stapleton), twice a widow, "a vulgarian" who does not belong to the upper class but is full of life, humor, and warmth and whom Arthur wants to marry. More than anything, this movie reminds the famous shot in Bergman's "Persona" - two faces combined in one. You are not sure which features are Liv's and which - Bibi's. With "Interiors", it is difficult to say where Bergman ends and Allen begins. I would also compare Allen's first exercise in creating a serious drama to Bergman's attempt in comedy, "All these women". Both masters tried to do something different from what they were expected by the critics and their audience and both did not achieve a success. I respect Allen's homage to Bergman's work but I think he is much more interesting when he combines drama and comedy in his films. I admire his ability to create the movies that are subtle and cruel, darker than dark and self-ironic, profound and touchingly poignant, deadly serious and incredibly funny – at the same time. Not this time.
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dahmer-519 April 2000
I believe 'Interiors' is Woody Allens finest hour: it is his masterpiece. The best film of 1978 and one of the finest American films ever.

The acting by the entire cast is superb. If any one film derserved an academy award for ensemble acting, it's this one. Geraldine Page is chilling in her cool intensity; Mary Beth Hurt is astounding and Maureen Stapleton is a revelation. Diane Keaton; E.G. Marshall; Sam Waterston; Richard Jordan and Kristin Griffith are equally great.

When I get down on myself and question my intellect, thinking of my appreciation of 'Interiors', reminds me of my own potential and love of the cinema. 11 out of 10.

Darren Cunningham
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Outstandingly funny
laursene26 March 2010
The second attempt by a New York intellectual in less than 10 years to make a "Swedish" film - the first being Susan Sontag's "Brother Carl" (which was made in Sweden, with Swedish actors, no less!) The results? Oscar Wilde said it best, in reference to Dickens' "The Old Curiosity Shop": "One would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh out loud at the death of Little Nell." Pretty much the same thing here. "Interiors" is chock full of solemnly intoned howlers. ("I'm afraid of my anger." Looking into the middle distance: "I don't like who I'm becoming.") The directorial quotations (to use a polite term) from Bergman are close to parody. The incredibly self-involved family keep reminding us of how brilliant and talented they are, to the point of strangulation. ("I read a poem of yours the other day. It was in - I don't know - The New Yorker." "Oh. That was an old poem. I reworked it.") Far from not caring about these people, however, I found them quite hilarious. Much of the dialog is exactly like the funny stuff from Allen's earlier films - only he's directed his actors to play the lines straight. Having not cast himself in the movie, he has poor Mary Beth Hurt copy all of his thespian tics, intonations, and neurotic habits, turning her into an embarrassing surrogate (much like Kenneth Branagh in "Celebrity").

The basic plot - dysfunctional family with quietly domineering mother - seems to be lifted more or less from Bergman's "Winter Light," the basic family melodrama tricked up with a lot of existential angst. It all comes through in the shopworn visual/aural tricks: the deafening scratching of a pencil on paper, the towering surf that dwarfs the people walking on the beach. etc, etc.

Allen's later "serious" films are less embarrassing, but also far less entertaining. I'll take "Interiors." Woody's rarely made a funnier movie.
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A 10 as a comedy, a 1 as serious drama
creepers-22 January 2000
I would have rated this film a 10 if it was a satire of self-obsessed neurotic upper middle class bores. Unfortuantely, it was supposed to be serious. If anyone thinks this is an American verison of Ingmar Bergman, check out Bergman. Bergman is always aware of the outside world, whether political or social. Persona isn't merely about an actress who loses her inability to speak and the relationship she has with the nurse who takes care of her. It is about class, and most of all, it is an anti-war film. The characters in Interiors are boring and have no relationship with anything outside of themselves. When I meet people like this in real life, I run in the opposite direction. However, as a satire of really selfish people, this movie works!
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Almost camp.
Polaro1 July 1999
Woody Allen's heavy- handed "drama" comes off like a satire of an Ingmar Bergman film. Unintentionally, that is. Rent "Persona" or "Cries and Whispers" and see the real thing.
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Magnificent cast in a psychological drama
blanche-226 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Woody Allen assembled one of the most brilliant casts ever for his first serious film, "Interiors," made in 1978. The stars are Geraldine Page, Diane Keaton, Mary Beth Hurt, E.G. Marshall, Maureen Stapleton, Sam Waterston, Richard Jordan, and Kristin Griffith. There's great acting and there's great acting. This was GREAT acting.

The story concerns basically two young women, Renata (Diane Keaton) and Joey (Mary Beth Hurt), who must cope with the separation and ultimate divorce of their parents Arthur and Eve (Geraldine Page and E.G. Marshall), their mother's emotional and mental instability, and their father's remarriage to a very different woman (Maureen Stapleton). They also must deal with their feelings toward each other and toward their spouses (Richard Jordan and Sam Waterston).

Arthur and Eve's marriage was a cold one, and one can clearly see that any happiness Eve brought Arthur had ended long ago. She's a rigid, domineering woman who raised her children in an icy atmosphere where everything was in its place and perfect. As is normal in dysfunctional families, the children escaped by using their imaginations - Renata is a successful poet and Joey dabbles in painting and writing, unable to find her way. Guilt-ridden over her feelings of anger toward her mother, she has tied herself to her and become responsible for her care. As is also typical of dysfunctional families, there is the family member who escaped - in this case, it's Flyn, who lives on the other side of the country, in California, and is a marginally successful actress. But she hasn't escaped, she's just put some distance between herself and her family. She is unhappy with her career; she snorts coke.

Eve lives in a delusional world where she and Arthur will reconcile; she never fully accepted the separation. An interior designer, she furnishes Joey's home with furnishings that are much too expensive for Joey and her husband to afford. She continually works to create a sterile, tasteful, perfect atmosphere, dressing in the same earthy tones she uses in her designs.

When Arthur introduces his new girlfriend, Pearl, to his daughters, she is completely unlike their mother. She's a round, fun-loving, fast-talking, simple, down to earth woman who has buried two husbands. Renata thinks her father should be happy. Joey is furious and afraid her mother can't handle it. When Arthur asks Eve for a divorce, it's in a church, and Eve, so quiet and measured as they talk, at last goes ballistic, destroying the votive candles.

The end of the film is extremely powerful, as Joey fights for her life - literally as well as figuratively - and is given life by her new stepmother. Perhaps now Joey can really live.

This film would have made a magnificent play - in fact, it still would - with its intelligent dialogue and character studies. It is a purely character-driven script. Geraldine Page, one of the greatest actresses who ever lived, delivers a tremendous performance as Eve, a woman who can't face reality - the death of her marriage and the anger and resentment of her children. Her disturbed character has very rapid mood swings, and Page flips in and out of these peaks and valleys with ease. Everything about her is held in - her jaw is clenched, her hair is tight and neat, her smile is forced - you can't imagine her ever being a loving mother, as indeed, she wasn't.

Maureen Stapleton is great as the outgoing Pearl, a loving woman who can give Arthur the happiness he has long missed. She listens to a highly intellectual conversation not understanding what the heck they're talking about - Arthur's daughters can only relate on an intellectual level; they know nothing else. She is incredibly out of place in the family, but as the earth mother, she might actually make this family a real one at last.

Diane Keaton, always excellent, is no less excellent as the shining star Renata, who must cope with an alcoholic novelist husband who believes his talent is less than hers. At the wedding reception, he drunkenly attempts to rape Flyn, who has been doing coke when he approaches her.

Mary Beth Hurt (whose last name is Hurt because she was married to William) is a long-time stage actress. As Joey, she is very nondescript, unable to find an identity, let alone a "look." She is stuck in a dull marriage to a dull political scientist (Waterston). It's not what she wants; she seems to want Renata's creative life, but with her identity so tied to her mother, she can't break free. Finding out she's pregnant, she becomes angry and terrified, determined to "get rid of it." Hurt gives a wonderful performance, her big moment at the end of the film when she confronts her mother.

As much as I love Woody Allen's comedy, his dramas always seem to strike the right chord - Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point come to mind immediately. Interiors is brilliant, made at a time when special effects were just starting to rule. Leave it to Allen. Not one to follow trends.
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A Dysfunctional Family Wrapped in Frigid Austerity Makes for Allen's So-Serious Drama
Ed Uyeshima30 October 2006
It's pretty obvious that Woody Allen was so resistant in being confined as a comedy filmmaker that in the throes of his success with the wondrous "Annie Hall", he felt a need to make an über-serious drama in the Ingmar Bergman mode. This 1978 Chekhovian family drama is the result, and it is alternately affecting and exasperating. The key problem is that Allen presents such a hermetically sealed world of intellectuals and artistic souls that the interactions among the characters feel pointed and self-conscious. He has obviously since learned that his best films ("Manhattan", "Hannah and Her Sisters") are served most by his particular balance between comedy and drama.

The story concerns an upscale New York family reacting to the news that patriarch Arthur wants to leave his psychologically unstable wife Eve just released from a sanitarium. They have three daughters, all of whom are grappling with their own problems. Eldest sister Renata is a successful poet stuck in a volatile marriage to Frederick, a fellow writer whose lack of commercial success has merely heightened his jealousy and paranoia. Middle daughter Joey is Arthur's favorite, but she is unable to figure out what to do with her life, and her constant flailing frustrates everyone around her in spite of the patience of her boyfriend Michael. Youngest daughter Flyn is the beautiful, emotionally isolated one who moved to Hollywood to become a semi-successful actress.

They all respond to their mother Eve's neediness in different ways, and the inevitable turning point comes when Arthur finalizes the divorce and remarries, this time to a passionate, fun-loving widow named Pearl. Even though Gordon Willis' beige-dominated cinematography and the frigid, almost-too-perfect art direction by Mel Bourne and Daniel Robert lend the extreme austerity for which Allen seems to be striving, the acting is what makes this film dramatically effective. Mary Beth Hurt gives a brave performance as Joey, capturing all the inadequacy and wounded rejection her character feels. Maureen Stapleton is a breath of fresh air as Pearl, lending an amusing earthiness and colorful indifference when she arrives late in the story.

With her severe look, Geraldine Page effectively lends unrelenting, humorless intensity to her heavily mannered portrayal of Eve and turns her character into a hopelessly desperate victim as the story moves toward its conclusion. As Renata, Diane Keaton removes all traces of the lovable Annie Hall but unfortunately comes across as the most contrived, especially when her character cannot help but be patronizing to Frederick and Joey. Richard Jordan plays Frederick in broad strokes that make it difficult to empathize with his plight. Making lesser impressions are Sam Waterson as Michael, Kristin Griffith as Flyn and a surprisingly understated E.G. Marshall as Arthur. Just the original trailer is included as an extra on the 2000 DVD.
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dmacewen25 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"It appears that many critics find the idea of a Woody Allen drama unpalatable." And for good reason: they are unbearably wooden and pretentious imitations of Bergman. And let's not kid ourselves: critics were mostly supportive of Allen's Bergman pretensions, Allen's whining accusations to the contrary notwithstanding. What I don't get is this: why was Allen generally applauded for his originality in imitating Bergman, but the contemporaneous Brian DePalma was excoriated for "ripping off" Hitchcock in his suspense/horror films? In Robin Wood's view, it's a strange form of cultural snobbery. I would have to agree with that.
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So bleak and Scandinavian , as Keaton said in Manhattan, but still a masterpiece
newjerseymoviefanrob23 January 2006
In 1977, Woody Allen reached new heights with his academy award winning hit, Annie Hall, and was rewarded with 2 Oscars. He followed it up with Interiors, a dark, melodramatic film with virtually no comedy without Woody Allen in front of the camera. It was rewarded with 5 academy award nominations, but received ultimately terrible reviews and flopped.

But the reputation Interiors has earned through the years doesn't mean it's not a masterpiece of sprawling proportions. The movie Interiors is certainly the most uncompromising drama I have ever witnessed from any American director. It's honest, dark, characters randomly stare into oblivion, and it's just bluntly realistic without any remorse. This all came from the same guy that had Gene Wilder having sexual relationships with a sheep 5 years prior, and a reputation as a pure comedic director.

It's hard to recommend a film like this, even to Allen fanatics. If you don't admire ART, it could resemble paint drying. Allen takes an uncompromising route with these characters, never letting an ounce of remorse drip from his story. But it works quite well as a study on Human behavior, and what can happen to families with materialistic possessions, without love. The scene with Diane Keaton's character, in the analyst, is one of the finest scenes from an Allen film. She confesses her own obsession with immortality through her work, a huge theme in Interiors. Characters to genius to enjoy the simple things in life. They're all way too concerned with immortality.

Interiors is not really a classic, but it is one of the best dramas ever made. It's so bleak and melodramatic, but I loved every minute of it. Allen's a genius when it comes to analyzing his characters. Unlike Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, etc, Interiors doesn't contain enough mixture of comedy and drama to keep you interested in the characters development. The pure melodrama dooms these characters from the beginning leaving you without any hope in them changing.

I still give Interiors 9 stars for the blunt honestly, but I refuse to give it classic status on account of the relentless melodrama. I'd recommend Hannah and Her sisters for a more optimistic view on family life, and immortality. Still an underrrated masterpiece.
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Morbid movie
DJAkin24 February 2006
This movie was morbid to say the least. Not a bit of humor in it yet it was a good movie. Very not like most WOODY ALLEN movies which are funny. This movie had a lot of goods and yes, most of those goods were delivered. Why? Well because of the amazing Maureen Stapleton who does a great performance as PEARL. And what about that FATHER? He was so callous to his wife. He made that speech where he said that he had done his job as a husband and father and that he was finished and ready to live alone? What a jerk! Then again, maybe he was just ready. That amazing DIANE KEATON proved to the Earth that she is amazing and Woody Allen's primary actress for ALL of his movies. I would suggest this movie to anybody who wants to see a nice, sad yet interesting movie about sadness.
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dum5 March 1999
Poor Woody Allen. Instead of being INFLUENCED by Bergman, he temporarily BECAME Bergman. A third rate one at that.
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