Set in New York City, circa 1960, a passionate interracial romance between a fair African-American woman and a white man erupts when he finds out the truth about her racial heritage. This directorial debut of John Cassavetes was a forerunner of the American independent film movement.
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"This film was an improvisation", we're told, which isn't really true, but art is built on such bluffing. Today, it's a film we value more for what it does than for how well it does it: the new freedoms of editing, acting, and subject matter are all here, waiting for someone to take them even higher. But I'd note that in that same year, Sirk tackled similar subject matter in a classical style. And it was better.
A film truly before its time, not only for featuring an interracial couple, but for featuring a strong-willed black woman in Lelia Golden. I love the handheld 16mm shots of New York, and the Beat-influenced jazz score.
I've finally seen my first Cassavetes movie! And I have to say I'm super impressed and very embarrassed it's taken me so long! This was a glorious film with superb acting and beautifully gritty camerawork. I loved how naturalistic the storyline felt. We were never given any unnecessary information, we learned about who these characters were as we watched them and that process was incredible. I fucking loved it.
This was my first Cassavetes, so why not start with his first? Truly fascinating to see how early Cassavetes showed such legendary potential. He basically created cinematic freedom out of pure necessity, birthing a new era for american (and international) cinema. And as if not enough, "Shadows" is also a noteworthy example and a lesson in film for the no-budget filmmaker. I look forward to see his latter work.