Monday, June 17, 2013


Written and directed by Woody Allen, Interiors is the story about three adult sisters dealing with the separation of their parents as they have a reaction towards this separation. Inspired by the works of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, the film is a full-on drama that explores the world of marriage and family. Starring Diane Keaton, Geraldine Page, Mary Beth Hurt, E.G. Marshall, Maureen Stapleton, Kristin Griffith, Richard Jordan, and Sam Waterston. Interiors is a compelling yet mesmerizing film from Woody Allen.

The film is the story about three women who are dealing with the separation of their parents as it relates to their very artistic yet mentally-unstable mother. For the older sisters in Renata (Diane Keaton) and Joey (Mary Beth Hurt), both would have a different reaction towards the news as they have to deal with their mother Eve (Geraldine Page) who is known for being an interior decorator but is someone who is very aloof and is a bit of a control freak. Notably as Eve is having a very hard time dealing with her separation from Arthur (E.G. Marshall) while the youngest daughter Flyn (Kristin Griffith) is away working on a movie as an actress. When Arthur returns from his trip to Greece, he arrives with a woman named Pearl (Maureen Stapleton) that would shake the foundation of the entire family as well as some the attributes that Pearl carries that the women realize that their mother never had.

Woody Allen’s screenplay is a major departure from his previous work which was comedy where he goes into a full-on drama. In exploring the complexities of family and marriage, he also reveals how fragile this family dynamic is where it’s sort of told in a non-linear fashion early on where Renata is talking to a psychiatrist about her mother and how troubled she is. There’s also some tension between Renata and Joey where the two seem to resent each other as they often have to watch their mother after a suicide attempt yet neither of them seem capable of taking care of her as they’re busy with their own lives. Renata has become obsessed with death as she’s suffering from writer’s block while her husband Frederick (Richard Jordan) is dealing with negative reactions towards his own book. Joey is a woman who has no idea what she wants to do as she is more attached to her mother though there’s also a sense of resentment as her husband Mike (Sam Waterston) has a very testy relationship with Eve.

When Pearl is introduced in the film’s second half, there is a bit of a tonal shift of sorts where Pearl is a woman who is more open with her feelings and is very kind to people around her. While she is admittedly not in tune with politics or art, she makes up for it with the fact that she does know things and is also someone who is full of charm. Plus, she makes Arthur very happy where he can be more outgoing yet it causes tension between himself and Joey. While Renata isn’t happy about the news either, she wants to support her father while knowing that Eve will not handle it very well at all as she is still clinging to the idea that she and Arthur will get back together.

Allen’s direction in the film definitely recalls a lot of the compositional style and framing of Ingmar Bergman. While Allen does infuse some of his own ideas into the shooting, he does maintain this air of melancholia and dread into the drama where something is going to happen. Yet, he takes it very slow to showcase a family that is unraveling through these changes as well as the fact that there’s a woman in that family who is becoming more detached and impossible to deal with. The first half of the film is a completely straightforward drama where there are elements of melodrama as Allen infuses a sense of coldness that is lurking. Even in the framing of where he puts his actors in a frame where he will shoot from afar at times while keeping the camera still for most of the time.

In its second half, things do get a bit warmer when the character of Pearl arrives as she liven things up a bit with her personality. Plus, her presence including a party scene with the entire family minus Eve features the only use of music in the film that is played on location. Still, there is a sense of dramatic tension in the way both Renata and Joey react towards Pearl as it will play to some huge moment. Even in the film’s very emotional penultimate sequence where Allen showcases not just all of the resentment and anger that had been looming towards Eve. There’s also a sense of sadness in how detached Eve was with her children and with Arthur though the latter does love her deeply but admits she was impossible to deal with. Overall, Allen creates a very haunting yet evocative drama about family.

Cinematographer Gordon Willis does brilliant work with the film‘s photography where it‘s mostly shot in interior settings to underscore the mood in some of its locations while using the scenes at the beach house to play up the film‘s melancholia with its use of low-key lights and natural setting for some of its exterior scenes. Editor Ralph Rosenblum does excellent work with the editing to create very steady yet methodical cuts to underplay the drama as well as keeping things low-key to create some effective moments in the drama. Production designer Mel Bourne, along with set decorators Mario Mazzola and Daniel Robert, does amazing work with the set pieces from the apartments that Renata and Joey live in to Eve’s interior decorating work place and the family beach house.

Costume designer Joel Schumacher does nice work with the costumes where a lot of the clothes from the characters doesn‘t have any sense of color where it is intentionally bland with the exception of Pearl who wears clothes that are colorful to match her warm personality. The sound work of Nathan Boxer is superb for the sense of intimacy that occurs in many of the film’s location setting from the sounds of the waves in the beach house scenes to the more intense moment in a meeting between Arthur and Eve at a church.

The casting by Juliet Taylor is fantastic for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable small roles from Kristin Griffith as the youngest sister in the actress Flyn who is often away and somewhat oblivious to what is happening while Richard Jordon is terrific as Renata’s husband Frederick who is dealing with his failings as a writer as he finds himself attracted towards Flyn. Sam Waterston is wonderful as Joey’s husband Mike who is often frustrated towards Eve as he is also dealing with Joey’s sense of aimlessness. Maureen Stapleton is amazing as Pearl as this woman who is so full of warmth and love as she is someone that likes to have fun while being gracious towards the people around her. E.G. Marshall is excellent as Arthur as a man who does love Eve but feels overwhelmed by her behavior as he seeks to escape where he falls for Pearl as he’s eager to find something in his life that isn’t complicated with the support of his daughters.

Mary Beth Hurt is brilliant as the middle sister Joey who is troubled by her mother’s declining state while feeling lost in her role in life as she takes it out on Renata while becoming more angry by Pearl’s presence as well as her mother’s lack of love towards her. Diane Keaton is phenomenal as the eldest daughter Renata who is dealing with a troubled marriage and her mother’s mental illness as she tries to comprehend everything while trying to keep everything grounded including her own relationship with Joey. Finally, there’s Geraldine Page in a remarkable performance as Eve as she brings this sense of aloofness to a woman detached from reality as she believes Arthur will come back to her only to fall prey to the truth as Page has this haunting quality in some of the quieter moments to display a woman who is becoming more lost in the real world.

Interiors is a ravishing yet intense drama from Woody Allen that features a great ensemble cast that includes Geraldine Page, Diane Keaton, E.G. Marshall, Maureen Stapleton, and Mary Beth Hurt. While it’s a film that is definitely different from Allen’s more light-hearted comedic work, it is still a very engrossing film that explores the world of family and how fragile it can be. It’s also a fascinating ode to the works of Ingmar Bergman where Allen is able to put his own spin on Bergman’s style. In the end, Interiors is an exquisite film from Woody Allen.

Woody Allen Films: What's Up Tiger Lily? - Take the Money and Run - Bananas - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) - Sleeper - Love and Death - Annie Hall - Manhattan - Stardust Memories - A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy - Zelig - Broadway Danny Rose - The Purple Rose of Cairo - Hannah & Her Sisters - Radio Days - September - Another Woman - New York Stories: Oedipus Wrecks - Crimes & Misdemeanors - Alice - Shadows & Fog - Husbands & Wives - Manhattan Murder Mystery - Don’t Drink the Water - Bullets Over Broadway - Mighty Aphrodite - Everyone Says I Love You - Deconstructing Harry - Celebrity - Sweet & Lowdown - Small Time Crooks - The Curse of the Jade Scorpion - Hollywood Ending - Anything Else - Melinda & Melinda - Match Point - Scoop - Cassandra’s Dream - Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Whatever Works - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Midnight in Paris - To Rome with Love - Blue Jasmine - Magic in the Moonlight - Irrational Man - (Cafe Society)

The Auteurs #24: Woody Allen Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4

© thevoid99 2013


Chris said...

Glad you liked it! Yeah it is very different to Allen's other work. Saw it this year as well. The ending by the ocean is really powerful and memorable. I think a rewatch is needed for me to notice all the relationship and flashback stuff going on.

thevoid99 said...

The ending in that film was incredible. Particularly as all of the emotions are laid out and the aftermath is just eerie. It's definitely one of Woody Allen's finest works. The first part of my Auteurs series on him will come out tomorrow.