Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Woman


Dir: Woody Allen (The Purple Rose of Cairo; Love and Death; Husbands and Wives; Annie Hall; Crimes and Misdemeanors; Manhattan; Deconstructing Harry; Hannah and Her Sisters)

Shame on me for never having seen this film before. It's so smart and penetrating, a focused piece of psychology that is exactly what quality films should aspire to be. And yet, I had never heard of it before, and only queued it up in the interests of completing Allen's ouevre. A tucked away work of brilliance.

Gena Rowlands plays a philosophy professor who sublets an apartment where she intends to write a book. Next door, and audible through the duct work, a therapist examines Mia Farrow. The patient is pregnant and in the midst of a crushing midlife crisis that flirts with suicide. By eavsdropping on the sessions, Rowlands reexamines her own life, the choices she has made and the coldness of her relations with those around her. It is straight up Bergman (probably why I liked it so), even with the naked narration setting plot points and motivations.

Most of the film consists in frank conversations between Rowland and her husband, former suitor, step daughter or brother. The writing is highly theatrical, dense and intellectual. Indeed, the stage itself becomes an important metaphor in a dream sequence that allows Allen to be even more penetrating in his examination of this woman's psyche without the censoring blanket of convention hanging over the characters.

Ian Holm and Gene Hackman play the men in Rowlands, both as brilliant as you would expect from the amount of talent assembled on the set of this movie. A decrepit John Houseman, in his final performance, plays her bitter and regretful father, with one confessional scene in particular burning right to the core of the audience. No veneer of humor or whismy here, just raw honesty and subtle psychology.

My viewing companion made the important observation that Another Woman may triumph most in its choice to examine the life of a middle aged woman, a subjet matter so rare in film. Bergman does it, and Allen's reverence for the man translates into a highly worthy contribution to the themes that the great Swede explores in his work.

Another Woman is a real gem, a difficult and rewarding viewing experience that (I find myself writing this a lot lately) rates among the best of Allen's incomprable catalogue.



Blogger ronvon2 noted on 12/10/2006 12:47:00 PM that...

Well, if it is Bergmanesque, then I am sure not to like it.