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|Index||106 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think this was a brave move by Allen. The film has no music, is
written around unsympathetic, self obsessed characters who don't talk
like real people do (even intellectuals don't navel gaze like this) and
the plot (such as it is) is stilted and almost non existent in places.
Yet I liked it. First off, it's nearer what Allen has described as the 'real' him. All the comedy stuff is just there to mask difficult, unresolvable issues that thinking people struggle over and then can't resolve. Watching this film will not give you any answers folks, but if you like films that will challenge you and are by definition a 'thinking' person, you will empathise with people who are unhappy with their lot, don't know what to do, feel they have missed out etc etc.
There's plenty of this here. People say it's gloomy, miserable, self indulgent. True, but surely that's what life's about most of the time isn't it? You want escapism, watch Vin Diesel in something. If you want a challenge, you could do worse than look here.
I have to single out Geraldine Page for the acting honours, up against stiff competition. Subtleties are what differentiates great acting from the merely good - the 'very strong cologne' sequence, and the bit where she's lying in bed watching a God show on TV, help get across the island like, repressed nature of this character. She simply cannot express feelings, yet the despair and loneliness are there for all to see. They must manifest themselves somehow, and do, with tragic consequences.
So folks, this is not a comedy. There are no laughs, though Maureen Stapleton is funny and adds a much needed fillip to proceedings mid way through. There's lots to carp about, but the pluses outweigh the minuses and I urge you to take a look.
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
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.
I've recommended Interiors to several people and some of them thought this film was a bore. Well, they didn't get it. I watch this flick at least once year. It's beautiful, painful and incredibly accurate. The acting is great. The fact that Woody Allen can go from slapstick to such a moving script just shows how brilliant the guy is. He's not the whiner that everyone says they can't stand; and who gives a rat about his personal life? It's those folks that have never seen Interiors, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Hannah and Her Sisters, Husbands & Wives, etc. Take a look. If you're a little further along than Indepence Day, you'll like what you see...Wooy Allen knows people.
This film could have been one of Woody's best films ever. After the acclaim that Annie Hall got he could do anything and he chose Interiors. Even Allen himself said that it would have been better if there were more laughs in it. We did not get the first laugh until 1 hour into the film. I absolutely loved the part played by Maureen Stapleton (Pearl), she was marvelous. When she came into their lives everything seemed to get better. The family had been living in a world created by their mother, very drab and plain, and now Pearl can bring them out of it.
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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
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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