After the death of a common friend, three married men leave their lives together, seeking pleasure and freedom and ultimately leaving for London.After the death of a common friend, three married men leave their lives together, seeking pleasure and freedom and ultimately leaving for London.After the death of a common friend, three married men leave their lives together, seeking pleasure and freedom and ultimately leaving for London.
This was the first Cassavettes movie I've ever seen. I liked it, which was surprising because this is not the sort of movie I'm generally interested in. There's almost no plot to speak of, most of the movie feels improvised (although improvised along certain set themes -- one does feel the heavy hand of the director here and there). It's a slice of life movie that still feels pretty rough and daring; I imagine in 1970, when this came out, people couldn't make hide nor hare of it.
Like most movies of this type, the big flaw is structure. The movie takes forever to get going, and doesn't really seem to know when to quit: the last reel, in particular, felt a little long to me. Plus, as I said, there is here and there a sense of a structure being imposed from without: the guys don't just do anything, they do certain set things for "character revelation" sake.
The acting, which is the crucial thing in a movie like this, of course, doesn't disappoint. All three men are very believable: they delineate their macho world quite well, with it's romanticism, bathos, insecurities and obnoxiousness. They're similar types of guys, which bothered me a lot at first but upon reflection made a lot of sense, since in real life we tend to be friends with people like us. Still, there are gradations and variations: Falk is inarticulate and sensitive, Gazzara despairing, Cassavettes is fumbling toward some kind of self-recognition.
The cinematography is absolutely stunning -- I might have seen a particularly nice print but this took me by surprise. Most of the movie is shot in warm, earthy, romantic tones, which sets the mood of nostalgia and dreams well, I think. Every now and then, though, we get a cold, full-on daytime shot where everyone looks naked and blinking under a frigid sun; it's a good counterpoint.
This is an important film by an important director. He'll never be a favorite of mine, but I'll definitely check out other work of his. You'll be doing yourself a favor if you do the same.
- Nov 21, 2004