John Cassavetes is widely regarded as the father of the Independent film, who believed that risking anything was the only way to go, who bluntly told Scorsese Boxcar Bertha "sucked" (Scorsese then turned and created Mean Streets), and treated his crew like family who he payed very little (or at all). Whether or not Cassavetes is THE father of the Independent film is up to the film historians to decide. Besides, John Cassavetes was not interested in making films to make history or be the strict anti-trend to the big budget nature of Hollywood. John Cassavetes was interested in making films that give us truths about our lives, and he did so greatly, in a very different and low budget kind of nature that made his work seem even more honest. John Cassavetes Face's is, among the rest of his work, the most well known of his films to enter the public domain, and for many reasons is probably the best Cassavetes work to start with, next to A Women Under the Influence (a very devastating work).
Shot in Cassavetes' trademark documentary style filmmaking, the no BS approach to filming makes Faces even more realistic to watch. It is shot in high contrast black and white, and it look as low budget and unpolished as any other very low budget film. Don't be too surprised though, Faces is no banal third rate student film work. Cassavetes Oscar-nominated script effortlessly delves into the lives of these empty people and what makes them act the way they are. It is not a sloppy film either, as Cassavetes's camera work is actually quite inventive, and feels done right without making a big hoopla over how it is being used.
Much of Faces will not be explained in this review, and I think part of this is that this film raises tough questions about our lives, many of them that are arguably subjective out of the objective. Rest assured if you are looking for a film that will raise questions about the boring lives that some of us have the potential to lead, then watch this film. For even more insight into the film, I also recommend Cassavetes on Cassavetes, which is written by the leading scholar on Cassavetes, Ray Carney, who applies his own "Pragmatic Anesthetic" to the film.
Although previously sold in a bare bones DVD with no special features, the good folks at Criterion Collection will make sure that Cassavetes' works will be given the treatment they deserve. Although sometimes Criterion Collection doesn't quite stock up on special features, this two disc set on Faces packs quite a lot of interesting features along with the film (which is a substantial length at over two hours). You are getting your money's worth with this set, which includes insightful making into the film, an alternative opening, as well as an insightful documentary about the man himself. Since this is a great starting point, the inclusion of a introduction to Cassavetes himself is a very great addition. This is the DVD to start with if you are looking into Cassavetes. Thanks Criterion Collection!
A gusty and insightful look into the emptiness of the married middle age suburban demographic, Faces gets my high recommendation.