Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence seals my belief in the uniqueness of his film making. Very few film makers can really boast of having a unique style and Cassavetes is one among them.
Once again in this movie we are impressed by first and foremost the docu-drama style of Cassavetes which makes the films appear extremely realistic. This coupled with the supreme performances of Rowlands and Falks make the film almost a voyeur like experience. This obviously has its merits as the viewer is astounded by the realism but along with it there is one major drawback and that is that the viewer doesn’t like things to appear unexplained in such a film. The major point that remained unexplained(or atleast not evident to me) was the reason for Rowlands mental deterioration. She seems to have a good stable family support which is generally very reassuring for a housewife. The only thing that she seems to probably lack is a friend but in her “Five points” she has considered her husband to be everything for her so one wonders what exactly is the trigger for her mental deterioration. One may argue that the film is not about the reason for the deterioration but rather the way a family must deal with it which is well appreciated, but unfortunately, Cassavetes docu-drama style leaves you wanting those explanations. There was too much time spent in the movie depicting Rowland’s insanity which created many intensely dramatic moments that were probably not necessary. This movie in fact reminds me of Polanski’s Repulsion which probably dealt with the process of insanity better than this movie but then that film has other drawbacks which I have explained in a separate review.
In conclusion, I would say that this movie is definitely worth watching for the two lead performances and for experiencing the uniqueness of Cassavetes’ style of film making which although has certain drawbacks, is still an experience that we rarely get in movies these days.