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Another Woman [Blu-ray]
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Woody Allen's 17th film. Gena Rowland plays Marion, an academic who rents a flat in which to write a book on philosophy and becomes intrigued by conversations she overhears from a psychologist's office next door. One patient, Hope (Mia Farrow), has a particular effect on Marion forcing her to re-think many of her assumptions about her own life: her unhappy marriage; her feelings for another man (Gene Hackman); and her relationships with her best friend (Sandy Dennis) and brother (Harris Yulin).
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Marion Post (Rowland) is a philosophy professor who is taking a leave of absence to write a book and who has rented an apartment to be able to do this peacefully and without any interruptions. The apartment is next door to the office of a psychiatrist and she realizes that she can hear the sessions through the air vents. At first she covers the vents to prevent invading the patients' privacy, but later she hears the sad voice of a woman (Mia Farrow) after one of the cushions covering the vent moves from its place. From that moment on she is hooked and cannot help herself, so she continues eavesdropping into the sessions of the mysterious woman.
Marion starts identifying herself with some of the accounts of this woman and understands that she may actually be dissatisfied with her life too, mainly with her choice of husband and career. From that point forward the psychological aspects of the story become the central focus around which the action revolves. The dreams, memories and reality of Marion's life interact with each other, making us doubt at times if certain events are really happening or not. The final result is an interesting look at the psyche of the main character and her relationship with others.
As it is usual in Allen's movies, there are coincidences galore with chance encounters that reunite old friends and current acquaintances, but the story remains believable all the time. One of the most notable aspects of the film is the outstanding cast, with Rowland playing her role to perfection and other renowned actors and actresses adding their fair share. The performance of Gene Hackman is praiseworthy, and even though his participation is fairly brief, he leaves a lasting impression. If you have not seen any films by Woody Allen, this one is as good a place as any to start.
Originally I found myself distanced, experiencing it as an intellectual exercise. Maybe I've grown up some since then. It's a film that has a lot to do with loss and middle age identity confusion that well might speak to a viewer with more life experience. This time around I found the ending very moving, some of the acting flat out great (Gene Hackman, Gena Rowlands), and a lot of it very, very good, (Ian Holm, Martha Plimpton, etc.).
For me, the biggest weak spots were Rowland's voice overs which often awkwardly, coldly explains things the visuals are already giving us with far more subtlety and emotion.
But for a film that was relatively ignored at the time of its release, its a surprisingly worthwhile addition to the body of Allen's stronger work, and well worth checking out if you've either never seen it, or -- like me -- didn't quite 'get it' on it's release 22 years ago.
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