I didn't entirely jive with Cassavetes particular brand of spontaneity. There were moments with certain shots and movements that I found borderline vapid. However, the dialogue and performances were wonderful. Searing inspection of masculinity and its potential for egotism and willful ignorance as the backdrop for a quickly disintegrating relationship is made heavier by the entrance of a seemingly normal marriage.
All the scenes are unnecessary long, a lot of acting is completely over the top. Cinematography is arty when it shouldn't be and the characters are caricatural so it's very hard to connect with them. But still this film is fascinating and while watching you're on the edge of your chair waiting for another outburst of human weaknesses.
4,5 Cassavetes attacks American society by describing unhappy marriages and lost people. The greatness of this film is that it escapes labels: it is realist and it is not, it is precisely written and it is not, it is fiction and it is not. The first scene adds a touch of mise en abyme that reveals the beautiful paradox of Cassavetes' filmmaking style: cinema is a mixture of lies and truths. Like everyday life.
After trying to get past the opening half hour, I finally found myself with a dramatically rewarding, if difficult, film. Like other Cassavetes pics, it's a low key look at the lives of a few miserable people: Gena Rowlands and John Marley are the centre of the drama, but each scene plays out improvised, peeling away each person's vulnaribities. Like jazz, it can be brilliant, at times annoying, but always engaging.
One you'll remember without really knowing why. At a certain point it will start to look like a struggle between overly intimate cinematography trying to subdue bunch of characters not willing to show any intimacy what-so-ever. Until finally cracking and willingly confining them self to a still image.