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A Woman Under the Influence1974

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  • 4.6
  • passes the bechdel test
Mabel Longhetti is a mother of three whose husband Nick works as a construction worker. A mismatched couple, the Longhettis seem to be complete opposites: she's impetuous, extroverted and fragile; he's controlling, distant and hard-bitten. Their differences underscore a series of domestic dramas, culminating in a nervous breakdown that sends Mabel to a psychiatric hospital for six months, only to return to a home environment on even thinner ice than before.

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5 members like this review

The world has revolved many times since 1974. Many aspects of this film seem dated. However, the core of this film still burns with volcanic energy, fueled by a very simple theme: imperfect people deal with a problem they can’t fully understand. If heart and spirit become dated, then we’re in trouble.

At the center of this storm, are the performances. Peter Falk was never better, and Gena Rowlands is truly amazing; she is possibly one of the most underrated actors of her generation.

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Member Reviews (15)

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top reviewer

The world has revolved many times since 1974. Many aspects of this film seem dated. However, the core of this film still burns with volcanic energy, fueled by a very simple theme: imperfect people deal with a problem they can’t fully understand. If heart and spirit become dated, then we’re in trouble.

At the center of this storm, are the performances. Peter Falk was never better, and Gena Rowlands is truly amazing; she is possibly one of the most underrated actors of her generation.

5 members like this review
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Quietly alarming. Subtly overwhelming. Why can't I seem to describe A Woman Under the Influence with anything other than lyrical contradictions? Perhaps it is because this film feels like music, full of ambiguities and austere strangeness that still, somehow, manages to go straight for a direct and powerful feeling. On one level, I have so many questions about who these characters are, about how they became this way, and yet on another level I still feel like I know this story -- as though nothing were omitted.

The aching loneliness and landscape of American families is rendered with profound sensitivity here. A melancholy which is echoed in the haunting performances and intimate cinematography. I felt myself pulled into the very hearts of these characters every time the camera went out of focus, or an actor slipped out of frame. This film is absolute proof that visual perfection isn't necessary when passion and bravery are abundantly available.

2 members like this review
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Gena Rowlands + Peter Falk=Incredible!

1 member likes this review
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Incredibly convincing acting from Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk. This is a very powerful film and some parts are difficult to watch. Witnessing the mental breakdown of a mother of three is gutwrenching and touching all at once. A must see.

1 member likes this review
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Right on! Forty years later, this story of ordinary people trying to cope with a problem they don't completely understand still packs a wollop! One of John Cassavetes' best!

This film was truly amazing. Gena Rowlands so incredible, as well as Peter Falk. I wonder

where Cassavattes drew his info from, because he portrays a woman going through serious

psychiatric problems so accurately?? Have never seen this on film before, at least never

on American film.. I really appreciate this film!!!

1 member likes this review
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Quite honestly, this is one of the most important films of the 1970's. No film lover can afford to miss it.

Gena Rowlands gives one of the all-time most powerful performances ever captured on film. It is an essential element of Cassavetes groundbreaking film that allows it to achieve a level of realistic potency that has largely never been matched in such a cinematic and resonating way.

Both brutally realistic and theatrical, this film has come to be considered a study of an emotional breakdown of the wife and mother of a blue collar family. However, it is really a free-form study of love between two very different people. One damaged by the limitations of his life-experience and the other suffering what can only be surmised as bi-polar disorder.

Peter Falk is exceptional in this movie and both lead actors transcend their craft to a new sort of place in cinematic acting. Each gesture and movement carries power and insight into characters who always feel real. Painful. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Funny. Sad. Tragic. And, ultimately, inspiring glimpse into two people trying their very best to make it all work. The film examines a great many human challenges, but at its very core this is a movie about love. This can be said about all of Cassavetes' films, but it rings most true here.

It is interesting how Cassavetes managed to create such a realistic depiction of mental illness way back in the early 1970's before there was any real cultural understanding. A cinematic masterwork in which every moment feels as if it were improvised. In truth, every single line was scripted.

An amazing film.

******** When you rise to exit this filmic stage play, you want a chocolate ice-cream soda. Cassavetes is a frigging genius!

Gena Rowlands performance is superb!

simply incredible

Great performance by a great actress, Gena Rowlands.

I saw this film when it was first released and it knocked me on my ass. It took me this long to see it again since I was afraid it would not hold up. I was wrong, and I am glad I am wrong. I fell in love with this luminous presence, Gena Rowlands, because of this film. The characters are not only genuine and believable but you like them. (I even like the evil mother-in-law). We all have our stories, and this one is maybe not that unusual. It is just a story that is tough to tell, to sell. Cassavetes's genius is that he trusted the story to his actors (his cowriters) to make it real--sometimes, all too real. They succeeded on all levels--dialog, emotion, reaction.

Such an energy in every aspect. In awe of the performances.

John Cassavetes' brilliant masterpiece of damage. This cinematic portrait of the breakdown of a woman's psyche, tinged with the painful stagnation enveloping her marriage, is deserving of all the praise that has been heaped upon it over the years. Gena Rowlands plays Mabel with a childlike roughness and disturbing intensity that earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Her pain and instability meshed with Peter Falk's abusive, boorish and at times, genuinely bewildered portrayal of husband Nick form an intrinsically pure folie à deux by the time the film ends. This one will stay with you.

The best.

Stupendous, simply.