'It takes life' it is said at a point in the movie and that's all the movie has to offer, life even though it stems from death, and even though the characters are absent of life, of real life, that's why they yearn for one dramatically... Written and Directed by Cassavetes!! Just superb!!
His first masterpiece. Absolutely brilliant. Hard to watch, but you will get something out of it if you can withstand it...and learn to appreciate what Cassavetes does...In some way, he was the "jazz cinema artist" and the way he edits and creates his film with the actor being the center and point of reference is not only dangerous, but passionate and honest.
3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Husbands requires just as much patience from and challenges its viewer as much as any other Cassavetes movie, but just like any other of his work, you're glad you went through it by the time you get to the other side. Some scenes are rough (that bar scene with the singing) and others are equally rewarding (Harry at home as well as the final scene.) I liked it despite the lack of Gena Rowlands.
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.
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.
Another great explorartion of people feeling trapped in life--pigeonholed by roles dictated to them. The monotony of a life put into perspective by the death of a close friend. Plus, it pretty much became a blueprint for most men-searching-for-clarity films to come after it.