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Written and directed by Woody Allen, in the style of Ingmar Bergman,
"Interiors" catches Mr. Allen being far too imitative. And, the movie
is devoid of humor, unless you count either the inwardly chuckling
affirmation, or the derisive laughter you may feel when witnessing some
of the more obvious Bergman techniques. The story involves the
dissolution of a marriage, and the life it represents; and, how the
change effects eight principal players. The performances are excellent.
Although everyone plays their part well, two characters really stand out: Geraldine Page (as Eve) is frightening and neurotic as the matriarch being replaced by the earthy and vibrant Maureen Stapleton (as Pearl). In the end, these are the best pieces of Allen's puzzle. Of secondary concern are the lives of the divorcing couple's three relatively uninteresting daughters, played by Diane Keaton, Marybeth Hurt, and Kristin Griffith. Dramatic possibilities are missed by not having Ms. Page and Ms. Stapleton share some explosive, confrontational screen time.
******* Interiors (1978) Woody Allen ~ Geraldine Page, Diane Keaton, Maureen Stapleton
Enjoy viewing Woody Allen films, however, this film portrayed a mother and three daughters who were all frustrated in life because of the way their mother dominated them from Birth. The three daughters had no idea just what control their mother had over them and even their husbands and dictated when a vase was suppose to go here or there or a painting. E. G. Marshall went to work and acted very content with his wife and family life, but all of a sudden things seem to change and then the entire family goes into a very dark and dangerous depression. All the actors gave outstanding performances and there were plenty of Hollywood awards for this film, but this is definitely not one of my favorite Wood Allen Films.
I find myself oddly drawn to this film. In a huge departure for Allen at
the time, who had gone from slapstick to urban comedy, he makes an Ingmar
Bergman film, and a fairly good one at that.
The acting is first-rate, especially Paige. I disagree with the comments further down that felt she was sterile. I think she managed, in a role that was very rigid and minimalist, to give us a glimpse of a woman in absolute agony, trying to hold it together with iron control until she just can't do it anymore and snaps into a suicidal rage.
The problem for me with "Interiors" is that the characterizations are so rigid that each role becomes a parody of itself. The monologues come across as something highly intelligent people might WRITE, but not what they would SAY, and the metaphors are dropped like lead. In the opening sequences, Eve (Geraldine Paige) talks about the 'slick surfaces,' and as the movie progresses, we discover that the family she created with her husband was wonderful on the surface...but was emotionally rotten at its core.
It goes on and on like this. But as I said, this movie is, to me, a BRILLIANT film even though it ultimately fails. Check it out, it kind of grows on you.
Interiors is not your typical Woody Allen movie. It is a look at family life virtually without comic relief. Allen's introspection is there, but it is stark and detached. There is an analytical, third-person feel to most of the dialogue in the film that makes it feel like Allen was uncomfortable with his subject-matter. As he meanders from one tenuously connected scene to another he loses focus and impact. Interiors winds up feeling like it had much potential that went unrealized because Allen was unwilling to dig deeper. 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In his dramatic directorial debut, Woody Allen comes away quite nicely with this story of three sisters (Diane Keaton, Mary Beth Hurt and Kristen Griffith) whose lives take very different turns, due largely in part to the separation of their parents (E.G. Marshall and Geraldine Page) and their mother's subsequent dependency on them, esp. after a harrowing suicide attempt. One would think that the breakup of the marriage would be the focal point of the movie and the problems of their daughters would form the subplots, but it is actually vice versa: Renata (Keaton) is a passionately intellectual woman who feels that she has never had the complete love and attention of her mother, Eve (Page) and father, Arthur (Marshall). Joey (Hurt) suffers from a problematic case of middle child syndrome. Coupled with the overwhelming task of being a pillar of support for her mother, she often throws moody signals of indifference towards her boyfriend, Mike (played by Sam Waterston). Flyn (Griffith) is a budding young actress whose cocaine habit she successfully hides from her family during her visit home. Her performance, along with Marshall's role as Arthur, were really the onty two underdeveloped leads. Had as much attention been paid to the cultivation of their characters as everyone else's, the movie would have been better rounded. An auteur like Allen should've known better, but he compensates for these small "flaws" with an interesting contrast by Maureen Stapleton as Pearl, Arthur's second wife. Immediately, the viewer can tell the difference between her and the rest of the characters. While Renata, Joey, Mike, etc.. wear plain colors such as puce, grey, and brown, Pearl wears a deep crimson dress (perhaps a throwback to Bette Davis' shocking moment in Jezebel?) to symbolize her vivacity and vigor. Her stint gives the movie a most appropriate shot of 'color', and the finale completes the film's theme of angst and disillusionment, bringing the viewer 'back to earth', so to speak. Overall, a brilliant, Bergmanesque effort from Allen that works, thanks to a first-rate cast and thought-provoking performances. "Interiors" Oscar nominations included Best Director, Best Actress (Page), and Best Supporting Actress (Stapleton).
Woody Allen has in many of his films made references to Ingmar Bergman.
was not until 1978's dark, haunting "Interiors" however that Woody pulled
out all the stops. The film posters featured the Bergmanesque profiles of
Diane Keaton and the other main players (whose names escape me). The
textures were reminiscent of Bergman films such as "Cries and Whispers."
Since I was sadly too young to see "Interiors" when it was released, I can
only wonder if people might have been quick to call it a Bergman
Well, I dont know what people said of the film during its release, but I do know that it is far from a ripoff. "Interiors" was at once a salute to Bergman and his art, and proof that Woody Allen was far from a one-joke man. "Interiors" is more-than-ample evidence to naysayers that Woody Allen is a filmmaker of depth and range; i.e., a serious filmmaker.
"Interiors" is to be sure a bleak film. Self-obsessed, yes. Some would say that these chilly characters inspire little or no sympathy.
This is however the very point of "Interiors." It is a story about isolation and despair; about people who dont see, or feel no desire to be a part of, an outside world. Geraldine Page, so brilliant in this film, tapes the outside world out.
Yes, it is very hard to sympathize with these chilly characters; that is the point. Woody Allen has never made it his job to paint characters who are saints. He is always critical of the characters that populate his films.
The film is also a great commentary on the society (& times) in which we live. We are a self-obsessed, destructive people. "Interiors," like "Crimes and Misdemeanors," shows us just how close we all are in this society to walking off an edge from which there can be no return.
We are also left asking ourselves the chilly, frightening question: Can we care that there is no return?
Rent this film, if you want to see Woody do something other than comedy. It's disturbing; but most Art should be.
Like the title of the film "Interiors" is as much about the psychology
of the characters as it is about the mother who decorated the inside of
homes. Fantastic, scorching drama by Woody Allen, his best. The film
centers around the lives of one family, they each have issues to work
out and they interact with each other based on personalities that are
in strong opposition to one another. As the film unravels it resembles
something close to a Bergman film, dark, brooding and deeply
subconscious. Allen definitely was influenced by Bergman while making
Allen, who is typically known as a comedic writer and director shatters the his own mold with this one and demonstrates his range and insight.
I will begin with saying that I am very passionate about Woody Allen's
work and that I admire his highly individual films, impervious to the
bullying standards of the American mainstream. Interiors is a part of
the last batch of Woody Allen films that I'm taking care of not having
yet seen. It's a complicated film to analyze. The high points are
Gordon Willis's beautiful cinematography that gives the film the roots
of its inherent emotion, and the cast is riveting and very much in
tune, especially the haunting Geraldine Page, fascinating Diane Keaton
whose presence never fails, the very convincingly unaware performance
of Maureen Stapleton, Mary Beth Hurt who plays her character's angrily
repressed realist with a tremendous personal correspondence that sparks
her performance, and the becomingly frustrating Richard Jordan.
However, the film is a mystery in an unfulfilling way. Allen, as many thought, especially himself, was influenced by Ingmar Bergman's work and felt great hero worship for him, and thus compelled to make a film entirely with Bergman's style in mind, he lost himself in what is innately an exercise. This doesn't mean that the story doesn't work and that the film does not reach the viewer, because it does. Interiors is simply a movie with a dramatic plot that seems to say something when it really doesn't. Like all Woody Allen films, and also like all by Ingmar Bergman, the characters are pawns in the filmmakers' occupations with human psychology, which is what makes their films so interesting and profound.
Despite how well-made the film is, it only seems as if what Allen set out to was to imitate his idol. The reason other serious works of his are better, like Match Point, Sweet and Lowdown, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Melinda and Melinda, is because he was saying something as his own unique voice. Here, he is basically dabbling in a voice that isn't entirely his.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems that the moment Woody Allen strays from his trademark quirky,
nervous humor, people in the know and in the appreciation of his work
tend to do a Linda Blair, throw their hands up in the air, and exclaim
to the skies, "Why, God, Why???" before jumping off a Manhattan
skyscraper and on their way down, slitting their throats in sheer
devastation because the Master Allen had failed them. It seems rather
shallow to pigeon-hole someone who after almost ten years of making
wacky comedies (and winning an Oscar in the process a year earlier for
ANNIE HALL, groundbreaking in every aspect) only wanted to tell the
stories he wanted to -- it's the equivalent of the horror writer who
gets lambasted when he attempts to write a straight-forward drama, or
the dramatic actor who all but gets ruined in the process of
effectively conveying comedy.
But not to digress: INTERIORS is Woody Allen's finest drama which gets better with every subsequent viewing. It's hard not to appreciate the tragedy being played out within its characters nearly thirty years after its first release. It could, as a matter of fact, represent the essential family mechanics without the overwhelming violence that some families enact -- but still inflicting severe wounds of a deeper, mental and emotional nature, the type that years of therapy cannot erase. Three daughters come together to face the burden of their parents' separation (although unlike subsequent movies in which Allen would involve three sisters, i. e. HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, INTERIORS only focuses on two of the three daughters and the third, Flyn, gets an underdeveloped treatment).
The aptly named Eve (Geraldine Page) is at the center of this separation. She is the mother who is silently going mad, if she has not been for a while now. It's rather disturbing to see the damage she's inflicted on Renata (Diane Keaton) who herself is involved in a very unsatisfying relationship with a man who cannot appreciate her work as a writer, but more so when we focus on how she treats Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) and imposes her will on her. Joey, the most hurt of the three, has to carry the brunt of this dysfunction, seeing her father's wife-to-be (Maureen Stapelton) who has a natural attitude towards life and could care less about the intellectual pretentiousness these people have.
Where Allen really brings forth his forte as a director is right at the moment when everything festering below the surface comes to light, literally. Page's character appears for the first and only time dressed in black, already a ghost, to her daughter Joey who is still clinging onto some hope. As the entire household sleeps (seen in quick inserts), Page decides to walk into the ocean. Joey tries to go after her mother, possibly to save her, possibly to join her. Stapelton, the only one truly awake in the house, runs after Joey and into the water, breathing life into her lungs. It's a powerful, moving scene -- one of the most emotionally satisfying I've ever seen in a Woody Allen movie, since his pictures tend towards the intellectual, and it just shows that a director is much, much more than the sum of his apparent parts, Bergmanesque and all.
Reviews of this film typically include the word "Bergmanesque," and mine is now no exception. However, while the opening and closing scenes clearly are an homage to Bergman's style of staging, the remainder of the film is anything but derivative. The opening credits roll in silence, setting the tone for an extended opening (also silent) in which the editor takes us quickly through a vacant house; that it is vacant is indicative of the entire feel of the film. Diane Keaton presses her hand to the window glass and stares out at the open sea in dramatic, nay, melodramatic fashion in one stylized moment, but the movie is otherwise a genuine portrayal of real intrafamilial interactions. One can easily imagine the previous tiffs and blow-ups that form the backstory for the strained conversations we are shown. The character of the father's new love interest, the only one who is new to the family fray, is unabashedly simple in the midst of the sometimes forced intellectualism that characterizes the mother, her two oldest daughters, and their respective husbands. Not to say that she is unintelligent; it is not so much that she is missing something the others possess, but that she has something they do not, a willingness to appreciate simple or even low-brow pleasures. (Maureen Stapleton's performance is delightful. She provides us the funniest moments in the film, moments that are funny not by being ridiculous but by being so incisive a depiction of an archetype.) The father himself is intellectual only insofar as it would serve a white-collar professional; i.e., very little. The youngest daughter, a television actress (and a perfect metaphor at that) takes after her father in this respect. Yet it is clear that the two of them are perfectly intelligent people. The acting, without exception, is excellent and the dialogue, superb. Allen the director, for the first time in this vehicle, succeeds where his earlier films dared not tread; he shows restraint, nuance, and subtlety. We appreciate the sadness of these characters without once feeling whacked about the head by the legerdemain of a typical Hollywood tearjerker. Allen the writer is clearly an astute observer of human behavior and individual differences. He shows us hopelessness, and it is beautiful.
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