Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA, 1988. Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions. Screenplay by Woody Allen. Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Robert Greenhut. Production Design by Santo Loquasto. Costume Design by Jeffrey Kurland. Film Editing by Susan E. Morse.
Woody Allen returns to the Bergmanesque style that served him so well in Interiors (but did not in September). A female version of Wild Strawberries, it stars a brilliant Gena Rowlands as a literature professor whose entire life comes crashing down around her when she starts to realize that her relationships with the people around her aren’t at all what she thought they were. Needing a place to work quietly on her latest book without distraction from family, she rents an apartment in a building where her next-door neighbour is a psychoanalyst. Able to hear the doctor’s sessions through a ventilation grate in her wall, Rowlands becomes particularly moved by the confessions of an emotionally troubled pregnant woman (Mia Farrow) whose sessions provoke introspection on Rowlands’ part.
Rowlands reflects on the men in her life (Gene Hackman, Ian Holm), her father (John Houseman), her rebellious stepdaughter (Martha Plimpton, who seems to have had a late-eighties career playing such types) and her brother. Even a chance encounter with an old friend (Sandy Dennis in a fantastic cameo) prompts her to wonder how it is that she has lost touch with so many people who were supposed to be so close to her.
Sven Nykvist’s moody cinematography further enhances Allen’s successful efforts at achieving a beautiful sense of intimacy from all the situations our leading lady finds herself in, and the journey is a fascinating one.