I acknowledge this isn't his best film but it is my favorite for whatever reason. I know the critics prefer "A Woman Under the Influence" & the hipsters prefer "Killing of a Chinese Bookie" but this one is mine. This has to be the best "Mid-life crisis movie" ever. I'm nothing like either of these 3 guys nor am I as old as they are or approve of their choices but I relate on some level.
In my twenties I found the film insufferable, now in my forties I only find the characters insufferable. Film is an overindulgent examination of three close friends suddenly being confronted with their own mortality and acting out in an adolescent way. One knows that one is commiting heresy by questioning the work of Cassavetes but my lord this one needed an editor. Powerhouse performance by Ben Gazzara though.
What's important here is what's offscreen. "Husbands" implies wives, who, with one striking exception, remain unseen. And the raucous, grasped-at intensity of this over-extended bender implies the constrictive normalcy of a routine. The desperate attempt at "living" implies the overwhelming fear of death. The corpse that starts off the film and whose spectral presence looms over it all remains, of course, unseen.
Like Faces, it's often difficult to sit through and suffocatingly uncomfortable. But once again, it fits the subject matter. His films are always about the barriers between people and connecting with each other; in Faces, it's jealousy, and here it's the macho male complex. Challenging but ultimately an important piece of work.