“Before I met you, I thought I was in trouble,” says moneyed museum worker Minnie to longhaired car park attendant Seymour over a hot dog and a coffee. Such is the basis of true love in Minnie and Moskowitz, a shaggy, unusually romantic comedy that is nonetheless pure John Cassavetes.
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Love Cassavetes, but I'm on the fence. Its central thesis is in praise of togetherness, on how a happy family can be started from having nothing in common and from a drive that has as much to do with desperation as with love. So it's less a love story than a blind hope story, meaning that the relationship of the two leads is (probably by intent) hard to grasp. Any love they have for each other is purely theoretical.
Minnie and Moskowitz started off so strong (the drinking scene between Minnie and Florence alone is worth the watch) but about an hour in my tolerance for Seymour Cassel's character just completely gave out until between him and the dopey and sappy ending I just couldn't take it anymore. Despite this, the scene with Zelmo was hysterically awkward. "Look at your eyes, they're so moist!" -- a riot!
Seems to get name-dropped much less often than the rest of Cassavetes' major features, and I don't understand why; love has always been a major theme of his work and never is dealt with more directly than here. One of Cassavetes' best, warmest, and most accessible films. Needless to say Rowlands is great, as is Seymour Cassel.
As I said of "The Passion of Anna" being Bergman's "Love Story", I suppose this would do for being Cassavetes' "Love Story". This one really breaks all the primary illusions you find in romance films, from being "unlucky in love" to the ritual of "meeting of the parents." Recommended in line with "The Passion of Anna" and Kaurismaki's "Shadows in Paradise."
As always Cassavetes' unique style of camera movement, editing and framing is truly engaging, but unlike A Woman Under the Influence or Opening Night, it lacks those gorgeous moments of emotional release that make the often meandering, slightly unrealistic dialog tolerable. The acting is fantastic in terms of body motion (nervous ticks etc.) and vocal tones but the words can leave much to be desired. 3 stars.