The story : Myrtle Gordon is the leading female role in a play, The Second Woman, on the influence of age on the Woman. Myrtle Gordon is an actress formidable, however, will begin to doubt his interpretation after the death of a young groupie.
First, a word about my report to the director John Cassavetes.
Cassavetes, for me, this is a producer that embodies a time, a freedom of artistic unique but too far away. I was quite insensitive, as it is synonymous with inaccessibility. My personal tastes are, therefore, much more classical and “contemporary” (Spielberg, Kubrick, Miyazaki, Nolan, Reichardt…)
So I was not hyper fan of its staging. I reduced his way of filming close-up shots, or to take the scenes until the malaise, even those who have no interest in narrative… However, if I had never held – by intellectual laziness – the entirety of one of his films (shame on me I guess), I’m seriously starting to re-evaluate its staging and its filmography.
OPENING NIGHT is a film that is difficult to access, but which reveals little by little its potential to be up to be stunned by its complexity mad and his ambition story… Two features important, which are merging more with the staging and direction of the actors : OPENING NIGHT is…. A STROKE OF GENIUS.
The stretch of scenes in which I talked about earlier is essential in order to penetrate the psyche of this actress. Because Cassavetes is filming not only the woman, the actress, but also the vulnerability of the face of the celebrity, the pressures on the artist, and age. But before getting to that point, it is necessary to encompass the entirety of elements that will lead to the climax final.
First, Myrtle Gordon. It is played by Gena Rowlands.
The actress has a game that is all in the facial expressions and exaggerations that may seem overdone and borrowed… Until one considers that she interprets really an ACTRESS. An actress, doubt, self-psychoanalysis, and is looking to rebuild. Who saw his performance on and off stage.
For me, understanding his game has corresponded to a turning point total in the universe created by Cassavetes. For me, this moment happened relatively late in the film, but has allowed me to question what I had just seen and found it rather boring. This stimulation was reversed fully participates in the slap that I was assénée the film and is data which will clearly depend upon your affinity with the actress, and the way of the film of Cassavetes.
In the end, the performance of Gena Rowlands merges literally with the film’s subject (the impact of celebrity, the age, on the profession of an actor), but also with the mise en scene (Cassavetes – the close-up shots, filming the performance in the performance, etc) Gena Rowlands is PERFECT.
Around Myrtle, several characters :
First, the stage technicians, relatively anonymous, at the service of artists and producers. Be treated as such by the film, as well as by the other protagonists. Just above in terms of importance, the producer. It is only an object, a portfolio. Unable to give his opinion on anything, but shown as being able to take radical decisions about the work (what it will never do)
And then, the other players in the room. They also have a role : to be the supporting roles. This is particularly true for the one who plays her husband in the room, Maurice (played by Cassavetes himself). Aware of his place (he even said : ” I am only an actor of second area“) is erased, mask his feelings. It is here that, in the interest Myrtle, and incidentally, the success of the piece. Whether on or off stage or even out-of-field. Their time of appearance is limited and their actions must help, for the sake, the actress.
Then, the stage director. As one can imagine, set perfectly in scene its actress requires a passion crazy. A passion that encroaches on his personal life (his wife is ar completely erased). The limit has been crossed for a long time. Manny (Ben Gazzara) is intimately linked to the Myrtle, but not be able, however, to understand it.
And then the author of the piece, Sarah (Joan Goode). It has issued a personal work on the acceptance of old age, the gaze of others on his own aging, the progressive fading of feelings and emotions, with time. A premise that is actually pessimistic and defeatist… What Myrtle does not accept, does not understand.
”A mental journey incredibly logical transcribed in all its complexity. OPENING NIGHT is the quintessence of the masterpiece demanding.”
Finally, the young girl. A groupie hysterical that wanted an autograph. Myrtle tells him to punishment, but is, however, definitely troubled. The death accidental of it a few moment later, will trigger all the queries of the Myrtle, and the vortex psychological in which it is going to melt : how can you be sure you made the right choice. The age is there really a synonym of brightness ? How to understand the boundary between passion, profession, and personal life ?
Myrtle will start to think that is Nancy (the dead girl). Recreate mentally the person. The problem is that this Nancy imaginary will gradually take more and more space, both in his psyche, as in the real world, since it causes an schizophrenia that is incompatible with the role ; Myrtle rejuvenates by Nancy, becomes inconstant, childish, capricious, not more control. Except that the role in the play requires the opposite. This will inevitably be a conflict, a denial of the physical AND psychological interpretation of the role. The “Second Woman” should be Sarah, 65, a successful author who gets, knows, and wants to communicate. Myrtle turns it into Nancy, a youth version of herself, living in excess and recklessness.
What are these conflicts a mental complex that Cassavetes captures, with brilliance. Gradually (Trèèèèès gradually) Cassavetes brings together the funnel of the tracks suggested in one : the schizophrenia of Myrtle. He gives a parallel solution. Need to give life to a new “second Woman“. This is what is in the final act, properly mad, who sees the birth of a new Myrtle.
OPENING NIGHT is thus a complex film, really exciting, but of which neither the actors (well, actress), neither the producer, nor the script, nor the rhythm throbbing – almost hypnotic -, accompany the viewer.
It is this intense effort that is asked of us that defines the film : a mental path incredibly logical; OPENING NIGHT is for me the quintessence of the masterpiece demanding.
Almodóvar was inspired by d’OPENING NIGHT to a scene of All About My Mother (that I haven’t seen it yet)
I will add that he shares with Cassavetes, of the love of the actresses powerful and charismatic, the envy of complexity. Almodóvar moves away, however, thanks to a universe more communicative, more fun but less psychologically ambitious.
Pedro Almodóvar, Price Light 2014 !
For the programming of the Festival of Light 2014 : go HERE
Cinéma Comœdia Monday, 13 October 2014 at 16:45
CNP Terreaux Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 20:00
• Achievement : John Cassavetes
• Screenplay : John Cassavetes
• Main actors : Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara
• Country of origin : U. S. A.
• Output : 13 am 1992
• Duration : 2h24min
• Distributor : Orly Films
• Synopsis : The famous theatre actress Myrtle Gordon is the star of a piece of Sarah Goode : “The Second Woman”. After a performance in New Haven, Myrtle witnessed the death of a young admirer a passionate…