Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Woman Under the Influence

1974, 155m, John Cassevetes

A family is a machine in which the family members like machine parts inter-mesh to produce effects between themselves and outwards. Variegation is the rule with families as with individuals. Tolstoi famously said that unhappy families are all unique. Dysfunctionality has a million hues and we are presented with a meticulously etched specimen.

This film is about a family in which the two parents are severely disturbed even as they struggle with enormous effort to take care of their three children and each other. Love for the children is what spells their salvation from doom and despair. Somewhere down the story, the wife has to be committed for some time, but the tragi-comedy resumes on her return.  That they inhabit a brink of disaster becomes evident when the lady is upset enough to to try to do something to herself with a knife which is grappled loose resulting only in a bloody hand. It is as though they have a different sort of time, watchful and dangerous, where the inner house of cards has to be propped continuously to keep real peril at bay. The film ends on an uplifting note as it bypasses the possibility of tragedy. If there is a lesson, life itself is ultimate, and it is significant that the film affixes no demeaning labels.


Anonymous said...

I like the movie, though I should confirm how much I like it later. Cassavetes' films are a little bit acquired taste to me, but his best works grow on my mind after watching them. By the way, Looking back at this film, I wonder about how the children will reminisce about their parents. I think they will say they had very interesting childhood thanks to their never-boring parents.

S. M. Rana said...

This is his only one I have seen because I was intrigued by the subject matter. It is said that those who live in or close to privies stop noticing the bad smell in course of time. I think the situation depicted is one of uninterrupted suffering and the children would at bare minimum carry deep scars. But then life is so unencompassable, the worst soil can yield the best fruit.