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

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Gena Rowlands
ANOTHER WOMAN (1988). Writer/director: Woody Allen.

"I accept your condemnation."

Marion (Gena Rowlands) takes an apartment to work on her latest book in peace but discovers she can hear conversations in the next-door psychiatrist's office through a vent. One particular patient stands out in her mind, Hope (Mia Farrow), whom she eventually meets. In the meantime she has encounters of varying kinds with her partially estranged brother, Paul (Harris Yulin); her aged father (John Houseman); an old friend-actress (Sandy Dennis of That Cold Day in the Park), who tells her their long separation was deliberate on her part; and her husband Ken (Ian Holm), who seems strangely disinterested in love-making. There are also flashbacks to her conversations with such as Larry (Gene Hackman), a friend of Ken's who fell in love with her. Another Woman is extremely well-acted, has excellent dialogue, is handsomely photographed by Sven Nykvist, and certainly holds the attention, but it may not deliver the pay-off the viewer is expecting. Perhaps the movie, which is apparently meant to look at the life of a woman who keeps her feelings too much in control, is too subtle to have major impact. Rowlands [The Skeleton Key] gives an outstanding performance, however, which is most of the film's pleasure, and there are also excellent performances by Sandy Dennis (her confrontation with Rowlands in a bar is one of the best scenes in the movie) and a wonderful John Houseman [Murder By Phone]. Betty Buckley has a well-played bit as Ken's ex-wife, who shows up in the middle of a party. and causes an understandable scene. Allen has created real characters, but that doesn't mean his characterization is always incisive, and we really don't get to know any of these people, including Marion, well enough to give a damn about any of them.

Verdict: The acting puts this over and it is certainly absorbing despite its flaws. *** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

Happy new year, Bill! I agree that Another Woman has an episodic and experimental feel, more of a series of connected character sketches than a satisfying narrative, but the actors shine in it and make it compulsively watchable. Here, I believe Allen is at the end of his Ingmar Bergmann period, the camera work and storytelling techniques full of homages to the master. (In my opinion, very best of his dark, introspective "Bergmann-type" movies is Interiors, which you may have already covered in your blog.)

My personal favorite Woody Allen is Hannah and her Sisters, which has humor, sentiment, lightness and romance. But the other night I watched Manhattan Murder Mystery, which I had not seen since 1994, and it was not a masterpiece but quite charming. All in all, I enjoy his films.

Wishing you the very best in 2016!

William said...

You, too, Chris! Happy New Year!

I saw "Interiors" when it opened and am going to get it and see it again. Allen's films seem to be hit or miss with me, but they are always interesting. I think his best was "Blue Jasmine."