Sunday, July 07, 2013

Another Woman

Written and directed by Woody Allen, Another Woman is the story about a philosophy professor whose life unravels after listening to a private psychoanalyst on another woman as she starts to question about her own life. The film is an exploration into the world of identity as well as the choices one makes in a person’s life. Starring Gena Rowlands, Mia Farrow, Ian Holm, Gene Hackman, Harris Yulin, Frances Conroy, Betty Buckley, Blythe Danner, Martha Plimpton, John Houseman, and Philip Bosco. Another Woman is an engrossing yet mesmerizing film from Woody Allen.

What happens when a woman accidentally listens to another woman talking about her own problems leading for this woman to deal with her own life? That’s essentially the premise of the film where a philosophy professor named Marion (Gena Rowlands) finds herself questioning about not just herself but the way she treated the people in her life as she‘s always been judgmental and at times, quite cruel. The revelations that Marion faces about herself and the people in her life forces her to reflect on her past while continually listen to the psychiatric sessions of this pregnant yet troubled woman (Mia Farrow). What Woody Allen does with the script is create a story about a woman’s life being told where Marion often narrates to play into her feelings as well as thinking about the people in her life such as her brother Paul (Harris Yulin) and father (John Houseman) as well as her own marriage to Ken (Ian Holm).

Allen’s direction definitely recalls the work of Ingmar Bergman, most notably Wild Strawberries, in terms of its visual language and its intimacy towards drama. Notably as it plays into the idea of memory and fantasy where this woman has to look back in parts of her life including the way she realizes how complicated things are. Allen’s direction is straightforward though there is a sense of style in terms of close-ups and compositions where Allen goes to Bergman for inspiration. Still, Allen does instill some of his own ideas such as a scene where Marion watches a recreation of a conversation she had with Ken as Marion is being played by her former friend Claire (Sandy Dennis) to establish some ideas about not just who Marion but also a look into her own marriage. Notably as it would force Marion to see her life and what can she do to regain some sense of who she is. Overall, Allen creates a very engaging yet captivating film about a woman reflecting on her life.

Cinematographer Sven Nykvist does brilliant work with the film‘s photography as it recalls many of his work with Ingmar Bergman from the lush look of some of its exterior scenes in the flashbacks to the more colorful look of the locations in New York City. Editor Susan E. Morse does excellent work with the editing to help create seamless transitions from reality to fantasy while keeping things straightforward without any overly-stylized cuts. Production designer Santo Loquasto, with set decorator George DeTitta Jr. and art director Speed Hopkins, does nice work with the look of the NYC apartments and homes the characters live including the look of an antiques shop where Marion meets the woman she‘s been listening to.

Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly sort of colorless and bland to represent the world of the characters and their sort of lack of emotions. Sound editor Robert Hein does wonderful work with the sound from the way Marion listens to the other woman in a session to some of the scenes set in New York City. The film’s music soundtrack is mostly a mix of jazz and classical music that includes a piece Erik Satie that often dominates the film.

The casting by Juliet Taylor is fantastic for the ensemble that is created as it features appearances from Fred Melamed as a guest at an engagement party for Ken and Marion in a flashback, Josh Hamilton as the boyfriend of Ken’s daughter, David Odgen Stiers as the younger version of Marion and Paul’s father, Stephen Mailer and Margaret Marx in their respective roles as the young Paul and Marion, Philip Bosco as Marion’s first husband Sam, Frances Conroy as Marion’s sister-in-law Lynn, and Betty Buckley as Ken’s ex-wife Kathy whose sole appearance at Ken and Marion’s engagement party is chilling to watch. Martha Plimpton is excellent as Ken’s daughter Laura who always turn to Marion for advice while Blythe Danner is very good as Marion’s friend Lydia who always likes to socialize with her and Ken. Harris Yulin is terrific as Marion’s brother Paul who is a man that lacks ambition but wants to do right for his family.

Gene Hackman is great in a small but memorable performance as Ken’s friend Larry who admits to having feelings for Marion as he would play a key part into Marion’s own revelations about her life. John Houseman is amazing as Marion and Paul’s father as a man who also thinks about his life while appearing in a fantasy where he expresses his own regrets. Sandy Dennis is wonderful as Marion’s old friend Claire who expresses her own bitterness towards Marion about their friendship as she later plays Marion in a recreation of a conversation scene. Mia Farrow is superb as the mysterious woman Marion discovers as she is a woman anguished by her own problems in life as she would play a key role into Marion’s own discovery.

Ian Holm is brilliant as Marion’s husband Ken as a man who seems to be content with his life but is sort of aloof in the fact that he and Marion don’t spend a lot of alone time together. Finally, there’s Gena Rowlands in a remarkable performance as Marion where Rowlands display a sense of restraint to a woman who becomes unaware of the life she’s leading. Notably as Rowlands adds that sense of distance to her character as someone who is sort of cruel as well as judgmental as she starts to realize some of the trouble aspects of her life as it’s a very mesmerizing performance from Rowlands.

Another Woman is a marvelous film from Woody Allen that features tremendous performance from Gena Rowlands. Armed with a great ensemble cast as well as themes of regrets and identity, the film isn’t just a fantastic tribute to the works of Ingmar Bergman. It’s also a drama that explores a woman searching for herself in a crucial period in her life as she ponders about the choices she’s made. In the end, Another Woman is a phenomenal film from Woody Allen.

Woody Allen Films: What's Up Tiger Lily? - Take the Money & Run - Bananas - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) - Sleeper - Love and Death - Annie Hall - Interiors - Manhattan - Stardust Memories - A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy - Zelig - Broadway Danny Rose - The Purple Rose of Cairo - Hannah & Her Sisters - Radio Days - September - 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


Anonymous said...

This is coming to me next on my Netflix queue. Your review only has me all the more anxious for it to arrive!

thevoid99 said...

I hope you enjoy it. It's one of Woody Allen's more underrated films.

Alex Withrow said...

An excellent review of my favorite Woody Allen movie. Rowlands is so perfect in the lead, she devastates me every time.

thevoid99 said...

@Alex Withrow-Gena Rowlands nailed it in every way. I don't know why she didn't get some recognition for her performance. It's so amazing. She is the reason why I think it's Allen's most underrated so far.