Remake of Jules et Jim following the experiences over a decade of two friends who fall in love with the same woman, enjoyably satirising the 70's through the search by the three protagonists for their identities and making sharp attacks on cultural signposts of the decade along the way. The film also studies relationships, what its director calls "wanting something permanent yet wanting to be free". Written by
Not as good as one would wish, but still interesting.
After seeing this movie in 1980 when it was released, I watched it again recently, 25 years later. I wanted to enjoy it as much as I have always enjoyed Paul Mazursky's "An Unmarried Woman" and "Next Stop, Greenwich Village." But it is not as good as those films. It is interesting as a sort of time capsule: it starts in 1970. But it is ultimately unfulfilling. Perhaps that's because it is a sort of remake of "Jules and Jim." Mazursky did his own version of Fellini's "8 1/2" called "Alex in Wonderland," which was about his fears of not being able to top the success of "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice." "Alex..." is a disappointing film also, but it is more visually interesting than "Willie and Phil." Seems to me Mazursky was better with original material, instead of trying to pay homage to another director.
Somehow Jeannette (the Margot Kidder character) is not very interesting. And you think there's going to be some kind of pay-off regarding her mother's smoking, and her sister's relationship with Phil, but neither pay-off ever happens. Kidder's overly thick Southern accent is a little annoying also.
Still, there is something endearing and nostalgic about the movie in its depiction of liberated young people in the immediate pre-AIDS movie. This was the end of the party, folks.
I enjoyed the fact that the beginning of the movie takes place at the old Bleecker Street Cinema. Later the threesome try to enjoy some scenes in that theatre while watching "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls!" The movie also winds up at that location.
It's also worth pointing out that Jan Miner is good in the movie, as always, and it's loads of fun to see Helen Hanft as a car saleswoman. Hanft, an Off Broadway muse at one time, was also in "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" and several Woody Allen movies, most memorably "Stardust Memories." She and Ms. Miner pretty much steal the movie, along with the woman who plays Phil's mother. And, by the way, I think this is the only movie I ever saw Ray Sharkey in, and he's very likable. You do keep waiting for him and Ontkean to cement their relationship in a physical manner, but this is Hollywood, and they keep reminding you that the 2 men are strictly heterosexual, and homosexuals are mocked as flaming pansies. Shame on you, Mr. Mazursky.
The moment I remembered the most from my first viewing is the spotting of the famous movie star on Malibu Beach. The moment isn't nearly as interesting as I had remembered it, but it's still sort of lovely.
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