Monday, 9 December 2013
A Woman Under the Influence 
A Woman under the Influence, Cassavetes’ landmark Indie film, and arguably his greatest masterpiece, was a harrowing and incredibly probing portrayal of the psychological meltdown of a lady and its distressing fallouts on her blue-collar suburban family. It was, more than anything, a powerful and detailed examination of the various shades of love in the context of a conservative working-class family, finding beauty in familial mundaneness and disturbance, and questioning the social definition of sanity. Nick (Peter Falk), a construction worker, and his wife Mabel (Gena Rowlands), love each other and their three kids. However, in a terrific scene where Nick, on a whim, invites his friends over for breakfast, it becomes obvious that things aren’t hunky-dory with Mabel’s mind, and as she veers towards breakdown, a vicious spiral is set in motion. The narrative was split across her commitment to a mental clinic, with the latter half being a memorably staged family dinner upon her return where Nick, as opposed to trying to control her ticks and neuroses, keeps asking her to be herself seeing her eerily placid veneer. Before long it became clear that the treatment had only taught her be artificially normal – and when that spectacularly broke down, what followed was messy, chaotic and a profound reaffirmation of their love. Rowlands gave a startling turn as the impulsive, fragile and emotionally unstable wife poignantly searching for confirmation about her normalcy, while Salks was equally brilliant as the increasingly edgy and volatile husband. The grainy hand-held photography, disorienting close-ups, single-takes, including one during the quietly effective closing-credits, and the beautifully rambling script, took us right in the middle of the proceedings.
Director: John Cassavetes
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Marriage Drama