A Woman under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974) Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk
A Woman under the Influence (1974): how to read it? It’s a Cassavetes film, so one can’t ignore (1) the directorial style. Scenes are long and rambling, and ‘badly’ shot, lit and recorded in terms of normal HW standards. Dialogue is improvised: at one point Peter Falk gets a line badly wrong – reversing the meaning – corrects himself … and it’s left in the film. But the subject of the film seems more predominant, and I’m drawn to a consideration of the story in (2) generic terms as what has been called a Social Problem Film. The husband is a brutal, irresponsible husband and father, but it’s the wife who gets committed to a locked ward and given electro-convulsive ‘therapy’ ( = torture), while he’s seen by all as the salt of the earth. But then one’s attention is suddenly drawn to (3) narrative structure – when there’s a completely implausible happy ending. So I don’t know what to make of the crazy mess.
Garry Gillard | New: 4 March, 2017 | Now: 25 November, 2022