A Woman Under the Influence

A Woman Under the Influence ★★★★

Like nothing I’ve seen before. A story of mental illness, motherhood, and domestic strife. It is immediate and visceral, with no concern for backstory or plot. This is the film equivalent of a band self-producing an album—every track ends up with a 5 min jam stuck between a 3 min song—but I’m here for it. 

It features long, drawn out, uncomfortable, actor-focused performances—it’s character driven and decidedly unsatisfying. (just like life!) The story of its production and distribution is worth looking up - basically a glorified student film that turned out to be a masterpiece. It shows in some of the cinematography, but I’m rationalizing it as stylistic...unsexy, organic, chaotic. This is the beauty of independent financing - Cassavettes gets to wander, linger, and stew in the discomfort of actors’ faces, large group scenes, children trying to make sense of a messy adult world.

This film is a gift in terms of acting. Gena Rowland was a beautiful wolf. Peter Falk a cross eyed bear. My only rub was the reduction of mental illness, but such were the times.