When "Interiors" was first released it was generally deplored by moviegoers, largely because it did not live up to their expectations of what a Woody Allen film should be: a laugh-out-loud comedy like "Annie Hall," or "Sleeper." It was as if Allen should be allowed to make only one kind of film (One might as well complain about Mozart having had the nerve to write the "Requiem" after "The Magic Flute"; or, conversely, Verdi having the effrontery to write "Falstaff" after "Othello." One wonders whether Shakespeare had the same problem: "What dost thou mean that thou art writing of a Shrewish Wench from Padua? Beshrew thy heart! . . . We want more Titus Andronicus!").
With time and distance, one can appreciate "Interiors" for what it is, an intense drama about a family in the process of disintegration. The film is beautifully acted by an ensemble cast that includes Geraldine Page as the mother, who is so quietly self-effacing that, like a vacuum, she seems to draw the energy out of any room she enters; E.G. Marshall, as a man who has been a good father, but who must now escape the house's stifling atmosphere; the three sisters, Kristin Griffith, who has already escaped to Hollywood and a middling career as an actress; Diane Keaton, who has removed herself to Connecticut--and writer's block; and Marybeth Hurt, the Elektra of the piece, whose love for her father, hatred of her mother, and competitiveness with her writer-sister have come to dominate her life. The static dynamic of this imbalance of power is upset when the father introduces an interloper, beautifully acted by Maureen Stapleton.
Some have remarked, not without cause, that Allen has given the husbands of Keaton and Hurt (Richard Jordan and Sam Waterston respectively) the short end of the acting stick; but, I believe, that is his point, which certainly reflects the title of the film, "Interiors." The very dysfunction at the core of the family has caused the daughters to exclude themselves not only from each other but also from their respective spouses, who remain outsiders. It is only at the end that the sisters come to recognize and accept their flaws, and consequently find some resolution, as the camera outside the house looking inward at their faces--framed by the window--implies.
Woody Allen's "Interiors" will not leave you laughing, but it will certainly leave you thinking, perhaps about how quickly time passes in respect to one's family.