Marion is a woman who has learned to shield herself from her emotions. She rents an apartment to work undisturbed on her new book, but by some acoustic anomaly she can hear all that is said in the next apartment in which a psychiatrist holds his office. When she hears a young woman tell that she finds it harder and harder to bear her life, Marion starts to reflect on her own life. After a series of events she comes to understand how her unemotional attitude towards the people around her affected them and herself. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
In the credits, Erik Satie's Gymnopédie No. 3 is listed. However, it is Gymnopédie No. 1 which is played in the film. See more »
If someone had asked me when I reached my fifties to assess my life, I would have said that I had achieved a decent measure of fulfillment, both personally and professionally. Beyond that, I would say I don't choose to delve.
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Woody Allen's "Another Woman" is, upon rediscovery, a film of great power and feeling. Sadly, not many people will be open to rediscovery after the initial viewing.
Gena Rowlands stars as Marion Post, a 50ish philosophy professor whose life is in order. She rents an apartment to work on her latest book. By accident, she discovers that through the heating duct, she can hear all conversations from the psychiatrist located in said building. At first, she covers the duct with cushions to block the sound, but she decides to listen in after hearing, by accident, the testimony of a young pregnant woman. This sets in motion a chain of events that changes Marion forever.
Woody has said that he originally conceived the idea as a comedy and indeed, it could be played that way (on a smaller scale in "Everyone Says I Love You"). But here, Allen resists the temptation to play it for laughs. In fact, there is not one single moment of comedy relief in his film. I think that is a wise decision. I was so absorbed by Marion's journey that comedy would have broken the mood of the film. This film is another venture into Bergmanesque cinema and "Another Woman" can compare with the very best Bergman.
Gena Rowlands hasn't had a role this good since the films of her late husband John Cassavetes. This in fact, shows another side of Rowlands; a more restrained, mannered character than the fiery, passionate characters in the Cassavetes films. It just shows the different types of roles Rowlands can play so well. She deserved an Oscar nomination for this.
In fact, the whole film is well cast by Allen. Gene Hackman is great in a mellow part as Marion's ex-lover. Blythe Danner makes a return to form as Marion's best friend. It is great to see Danner do what she does best, especially following the horrible "Brighton Beach Memoirs" in which she was underused. Ian Holm is superb as Marion's husband, who as Roger Ebert puts it "must have a wife so he can cheat on her". In his final film, John Houseman allows himself to appear weak and frail; quite a change from the pillar of strength in "The Paper Chase" and a good cap to a great career.
I mentioned at the beginning that not many people will be open to rediscovering "Another Woman". I think that is correct. Here are my reasons why. First, the film is deliberately paced, even with a short running time of 81 minutes. Most viewers' attention spans won't be able to tolerate the long takes Allen is famous for. Second, the film doesn't offer any instant gratification or closure. Allen's story is one of those stories that just can't have a typical happy Hollywood ending. Third, there is T&A, even though adultery plays a large part in the story. So if you're looking for a fast paced film with T$A and guns and action and a happy ending, you might as well move on.
"Another Woman" is one of those films in which rediscovery is necessary. Allen packs so much into 81 minutes that multiple viewings are necessary to absorb it all. If you make the effort to see it again, you might find that "Another Woman" is a film of great power and feeling that works better every time you see it.
**** out of 4 stars
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