[critical] A Woman Under the Influence

Foreman on building sites, Nick is overwhelmed with work and cannot go home for the night. On his side, Mabel, his wife is depressed. After having left his children to his mother, she is drunk and half unconscious, brings a man to the house. The next day, Nick arrived with their team of workers, and a domestic scene breaks out…

Author’s Note


Release Date : April 14, 1976

Directed by John Cassavetes

Film american

With Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper

Duration : 2h26min

Original title : A Woman under the Influence

Trailer :

More known as an actor (nearly 80 films) as producer (12 films in total), John Cassavetes is considered one of the pioneers of independent cinema, many filmmakers of the New Wave will build without a lot of scruples ! The ‘Shadows’ of 1959 remains to this day as one of the major films of the cinema, the episode when Lelia brings her boyfriend in the apartment of his brother, and the boyfriend discovers that the family is ‘black’, the scene of this confrontation is simply extraordinary, and transposes in a few seconds all the human dramas that are played at the same time in an America in search of redemption.

A Woman under the Influence’ almost never see the light of day because it is Martin Scorsese, after the many refusals of the distributors, who staged a lobbying good-natured during the release of his own film ‘Alice is here’, to support it officially. History will, paradoxically, that it is Ellen Burstyn who is awarded the Oscar for Best Actress for ‘Alice is here’, while Gena Rowlands, in a performance with a non-standard in ‘A Woman under the Influence’, will walk away empty-handed !

With ‘A Woman under the Influence’, John Cassavetes, liberated from all standards to conform to institutionalized by Hollywood, and realizes a work of anti-Establishment, anti-Hollywood, anti-Gender, anti-Film. Commonly described as a fall into the abyss of madness – insane are those of believe to such a shortcut – this drama reflects rather the difficulty of a couple average american, through the motif of the inability to communicate overt, which leads to family ties in a form of decay irreversible.

No, it is not an analysis cinematic and psychoanalytic of human folly, we must remain vigilant as to the primary meaning of the scenario, and do not fall into the convenience of the false-fleeing !

Mabel (Gena Rowlands) embodies this loving mother, this devoted wife, the free woman in the literal sense of the term ; Nick (Peter Falk) symbolizes the husband as a protector, guardian, and sometimes compelling. Through the access of dementia, Mabel and reactions are no less alienated from Nick, John Cassavetes explores the intimate, sometimes secret, of a couple in which the wobbling existential is almost palpable – some long shots sequences reflect abruptly from the porosity relational.

exempts itself from any form of plot, don’t look for the heroes and anti-heroes, you will not find ! It is neither more nor less than a slice of life, altogether banal, made exponentially emotional by the flow of intrusive images, the limit on the documentary style. Maurice Blanchot, in The Maintenance Infinity : ‘Because, for us, within the day something can occur that would not be the day, something that in an atmosphere of light and limpidity to be the thrill of fright where the day is out ?’.

The formula is dropped : the thrill of fear, that runs through end-to-end, because even without plot, A Woman under the Influence’ we permeates its roughness psychological and organic, and never loosen the flange. The clatter of actorial is without limits, almost unbearable, the actors engaged, body and soul to break down barriers of their status as an actor.

Like the Vertigo ofAlfred Hitchcock, ‘A Woman under the Influence’ demonstrates, with a sharpness monstrous, the ability of cinema to depict the torments of the more buried of the human soul, certainly no complacency in regard to the spectator, caught up in a whirlwind of convulsive, almost labyrinthine, emotions original.

John Cassavetes,
filming the human being in its condition of Human Being, neither more nor less, making these characters even more intimate to our own truth, excluding any form of artifice to exhale the part of the bestiality that lurks in all of us…

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