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Losing Ground (1982)

 |  Comedy  |  6 February 2015 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 29 users  
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A comedy-drama about a Black American female philosophy professor and her insensitive, philandering, and flamboyant artist husband who are having a marital crisis. When the wife goes off on... See full summary »

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Title: Losing Ground (1982)

Losing Ground (1982) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Billie Allen
Gary Bolling
Bill Gunn
Duane Jones
Noberto Kerner
Maritza Rivera
Seret Scott
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Storyline

A comedy-drama about a Black American female philosophy professor and her insensitive, philandering, and flamboyant artist husband who are having a marital crisis. When the wife goes off on an almost unbelievable journey to find "ecstasy", her husband is forced to see her in a different light. Written by Leslye Allen (L. J. Allen-2)

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6 February 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Auf schwankendem Boden  »

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A "lost film" that deserves to be seen
8 February 2015 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

Losing Ground (1982) is one of the few independent films made in the 1980's by a Black woman director. Kathleen Collins was a brilliant, highly talented professor of film. Unfortunately, she directed only this one commercial film, and tragically, she died when she was just 46 years old.

The movie itself was largely ignored, and would have been truly lost except for a fortunate event. Collins' daughter found the negatives, and Milestone has remastered the film for theatrical release.

This movie starts slowly. The protagonist, Sara Rogers (Seret Scott) is giving a college lecture about Existentialism. (Director Collins had a graduate degree in French Literature, so we can assume the lecture content is accurate.) However, the scene is a real clunker. Nothing looks real or accurate or natural. I just sat there waiting for a student to ask, "Will this be on the exam?" Then a student asked, "Will this be on the exam?" My thought was, "Ninety minutes of this is going to be hard to take." Wrong. The film got much better quickly, and continued to get better as it progressed.

Seret Scott is an excellent actor. She is beautiful in an elegant, sophisticated way, and she looks like someone who could and would teach French philosophy or French literature.

We learn that she and her husband live in NYC, but they are going to live "Upstate" for the summer. (I believe "Upstate" was Nyack, in Rockland County. It's really a suburb of New York City.) Nyack is portrayed as "where the Puerto Ricans live," and the Puerto Rican population is a major plot element.

A triangle forms, and then a quadrangle. Sara has intimate conversations with her mother about her husband's infidelities, so we learn that they are nothing new. She, however, meets a very handsome actor.

This plot twist was surprising and interesting, because it involved making a movie within a movie. One of Sara's students is making a short film whose plot (and music) is the Frankie and Johnny story. The student is young, but he appears to know what he is doing, and the Frankie and Johnny movie, and the Losing Ground movie, start to coalesce.

The film contains some great dancing, some impressive art, good acting, and an interesting plot. I enjoyed it, and I think it's worth seeing. Yes--it will be useful to scholars of cinema as a historical reference. However, I'm not a scholar of cinema. I enjoyed Losing Ground on its own merits.

The film was shown at the Dryden Theatre in Rochester's George Eastman House. The Dryden Theatre is the ideal venue for any movie, including this one. It's not clear to me whether the movie will actually be shown in commercial theaters, or even at many film festivals. (The film was shown for a week at Lincoln Center.) However, Losing Ground will work well on DVD. If that's your option, take it. Losing Ground is worth seeking out.


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