Monday, August 15, 2011

Gena Rowlands in "A Woman Under The Influence"

Gena Rowlands received her first Oscar nomination for playing Mabel Longhetti in A Woman Under The Influence.

A Woman Under The Influence is a movie I admire, but don't find entertaining, and for those who call it boring, that's what I think that is what Cassavetes was going for. A realistic look at a married couple's turmoil marriage. It's because Cassavetes' throws so many 'slice-of-life' moments in is what really kills the entertainment, or dare I say, shock value of the material. But, really the only reason to see the film is the performances, and while I felt Peter Falk was pretty terrible, Rowlands holds it together fabulously.

Gena Rowlands plays Mabel Longhetti, a strange stay at home mom. It's not clear at first whether or not Mabel is actually suffering from a mental illness, but it becomes more and more apparent - her eccentricity is played along with by her family because she makes them feel uncomfortable, thus causing her to fall more and more into madness. But, what the film wants us to understand is that Mabel's own child-like personality is always being criticized by everyone around her. She must defend herself, which is nearly impossible.

Rowlands is harrowing, to put it in simple terms. She gives a bravura turn that almost literally grabs you through the screen - her over the top performing fits perfectly. That's really what makes it so good, it makes you feel uncomfortable and scratching your head as she does crazy eye movements and wild hand mannerisms. It's a fantastic portrait of mental illness, one of the best I've seen certainly. It's never too apparent, but it's never hiding either. She never let's Cassavetes, Peter Falk, or the crazy nature of the character get in the way of her delivering a fantastic, brilliant, raw, unbelievable performance.

1 comment:

dinasztie said...

She's incredible, in my humble opinion.