Love Streams (1984)

JOHN CASSAVETES

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

USA, 1984.  .  Screenplay by John Cassavetes, , based on the play by Ted Allan.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by .

Unofficially John Cassavetes’ last film as director (he made Big Trouble on commission but was dissatisfied with the end result), this is also one of his most unappealing and uneven. He stars as a writer whose research takes him to such extremes as filling his house with prostitutes and bender weekends in Las Vegas partying while his recently discovered son waits alone in a hotel room for him. His sister (Gena Rowlands) deals with a bitter divorce (from Seymour Cassel) and loss of custody of her daughter by going on a tour of Europe before coming back stateside and moving in with her brother. These two slowly disintegrate before our very eyes while indulging in strange behaviour including Rowlands taking home a petting zoo and Cassavetes chasing after a nightclub singer and her mother.  Cassavetes was possibly a broken, bitter man by the time he made this film; while earlier works like A Woman Under The Influence showed family members struggling to make the best of their compromised happiness, Love Streams barely tries to find the humanity inside its inhabitants’ self-destructive habits. The attempt at narrative eccentricity barely masks an open disdain for the protagonists and the community around them that makes for plodding, unpleasant viewing, and weird elements such as dream sequences (one of which is a musical number) don’t help matters much. Rowlands is stunning as always, even if watching her go from sane to nuts was de rigueur for her in her husband’s films by now, and she has a few moments that are the film’s only truly honest scenes; the rest is just nasty posturing that is barely worthy of this great artist’s legacy.

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