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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A Woman Under The Influence is one of the great films, not just of the 70s but since the beginning of cinema, it has such grandeur in its intimacy, such emotion, and it fearlessly sustains this over two and a half hours. Gena Rowlands gives a performance that no adjective can adequately describe, it takes you so much into the heart and soul of this woman who seems to be having such difficulty keeping it together - although I remember Cassavetes saying in an interview that she was quite normal and that it would be just as reasonable to see the husband and others as really having the problems, not her. She just didn't fit into society's expectation of how a wife and mother should behave ... however one sees this - and the question is surely at the heart of the film - Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk make one of the most memorable and touching screen couples, getting a tremendous range of feeling and tone into the portrayal of these lives - and humour as well. I'm sure anyone who has seen the film will forever think of the name Mabel in a different way; Gena Rowlands becomes her so completely and the camera just doesn't flinch, so she becomes one of the most complete embodiments of a certain mode of being and feeling that has ever been caught on screen. It's a film that has to be seen by anyone who really cares about what the medium can do - ideally on the big screen, but failing that, on DVD.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2001
Shot and released back in 1974, Woman is a searingly honest depiction of a wife and mother cruising along the edges of sanity. Cassavetes cast his own partner Gene Rowlands as 'the everyday housewife' and was rewarded with a power-house performance which remains a career best. Close friend and co-hort Peter Falk filled the role of Rowlands' husband, getting a rare chance to demonstrate his skill and sensitivity as an actor with a striking protrayal of a working joe suddenly confronted with the unknown. The story is a simple narrative following the woman's struggle with her inner demons, balanced with the subsequent effect on her small family which is thrown into near turmoil without her at the helm. This is a haunting film, lovingly made and every inch an equal to the following year's Oscar shower, One flew over the Cuckoo's nest (also dealing with mental health). Futhermore, the movie has aged remarkably well; no doubt due to the fact that modern-day living - house, car, pet etc. - remains largely unchanged. A woman under the influence is a testament to Cassavetes' gift and bravery as a filmmaker and there is quality right down the line. Gene Rowlands rightly won herself an Oscar for her journey into darkness and helped ensure that this film ranks along the finest of 70's cinema.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2010
This is an excellent film by John Cassavetes, it's a must see for all budding actors and filmmakers out there. Cassavetes was way ahead of his time in his improv working methods and there is so much to learn from viewing this film, which stands out for me from the rest of his work. Peter Falk is a genius, and this film is a testament to his underrated talent. Gina Rowlands and the rest of the cast give outstanding realistic performances in what is an innovative and original piece of filmmaking.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2012
Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk both give mesmerising performances. Although the movie is 2.5 hours long, the time flies by because of its hypnotic nature. Cassavetes never bogs down the movie with lingering exposition. It's just raw, pure emotion.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2001
This is the kind of movie that forces conversation afterwards. It is difficult to describe the film without giving away the story. The acting is extremely good. Peter Falk plays a man/husband that we have all sadly seen before. His co-star produces one of the best roles that I have seen. This is a don't miss film
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
CASSAVETES ( director only ) - ROWLANDS - FALK, IN GREAT MOMENTS !! Yoy will realize what it means realy caltural cinema. You will also understand why Cassavetes is called the "father" of American Independed cinema. Yoy will enjoy PETER FALK ( such a great actor ) and you will be astonished by the performance of Gena Rowlands. If you watch carefully you'll notice 2 more Columbo actors....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2012
A wonderfully-written script,tight directing and award-winning acting keeps this film fresh after many years. It is definitely worth watching repeatedly.
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on 6 July 2014
WHEN I BOUGHT THIS DRAMATIC MOVIE, IT WAS BECAUSE I KNEW THE LADY FILMSTAR'S DIRECTOR-HUSBAND JOHN CASAVETES WOULD BE BOUND TO SERVE US UP A PROPER TREAT. A THING THAT HE'D BEEN LONG-CAPABLE OF, AND HE DID'NT HALF MANAGE IT HERE, WITH HIS PROFOUNDLY COURAGEOUS EXPLORATION INTO HOW DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIPS ARE ALTERED PROFOUNDLY IN THE HOME WHEN MENTAL ILLNESS STARTS TO FORM, LEAVING HER HUSBAND PLAYED BY PETER FALK UNABLE TO COPE OR RETRIEVE HER FROM ITS HELL AND HALUCINATORY SELF TORMENT. EXPECT NO SOAP-OPERA HERE. JUST WONDERFUL ACTING FROM A CAST GROPING FOR REASON WHILE IT OBLITERATES EVERYBODY. THOUGH THE FILM GOT A NOMINATION AT THE 1974 HOLLIWOOD OSCARS, IT WAS DE-MERITTED. MARKED DOWN, FOR BEING TOO BRUTALLY LIFELIKE. YET THE FILM GUIDES YOU, AND SOMEHOW YOU STAY WITH IT. IT DOESNT QUITE DIPRESS YOU. INSTEAD, IT COMPELLS YOU ON, TO WATCH. BUT THATS CASAVETES
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2008
Gena Rowlands gives a powerful performance of a woman who ...well its easy to say she has mental problems as she flits between despair and euphoria, walks along lost in her own world, drinks herself stupid and can hardly string a sentence together while desperately trying to convey her feelings to her husband, and then eventually gets forcibly sectioned. When I first saw this film I let myself make some easy assumptions, just like the characters outside the husband/wife central relationship then Cassavettes delivers the gut punch at the end of the film and I suddenly realised what was going on, *BEWARE SPOILER*, Rowlands is having a nervous breakdown and although she loves her husband its his domestic and mental abuse that has put her the way that she is. A Woman Under the Influence, you see it now, I watched the film again with different eyes. All the performances are top rate and if you've never known someone who's having a nervous breakdown then watch this and take note.
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on 17 August 2015
I was not disappointed by this film and the acting by Gena Rowlands was worthy of her Oscar nomination. It stands the test of time and the story is as real today as it was when it was made. I was astounded by the acting of the 3 children and cannot believe how well they acted throughout. I am not sure if their parts were scripted or ad libbed but they were so wonderful, they made me sad for them. Fabulous film and tremendous acting through out.
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