Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, February 25, 2008


AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (1978). Writer/Director: Paul Mazursky.

Erica (Jill Clayburgh) seems to have a perfect life and marriage, but suddenly one afternoon her husband (Michael Murphy) begins to sob and blurts out that he's fallen in love with another woman and wants to be with her. What follows is Erica's attempts to deal with being suddenly single and "alone" with a teenage daughter, having to re-enter the dating pool, and so on. This is a very light film that isn't funny enough to be a comedy and certainly hasn't the meat to make it a strong dramatic contender -- yet in its day it was highly acclaimed, perhaps because it supposedly struck a nerve in the fashionable idea of women's independence. Erica winds up with an artistic schlockmeister, Saul (Alan Bates), who throws paint on canvases, although she resists simply turning her whole life over to him as she did with her husband. One problem is that as a rich white Vassar graduate, Erica's post-divorce problems are not nearly as bad as other women's. But the really big problem is that the film is predictable and lacks bite. The scenes between Erica and her therapist seem improvised and are rather dull. The whole movie is well-produced but not exactly riveting.

Verdict: A dated curiosity. **.

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