Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 1978. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Paul Mazursky. Cinematography by Arthur J. Ornitz. Produced by Paul Mazursky, Anthony Ray. Music by Bill Conti. Production Design by Pato Guzman. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by Stuart H. Pappé.
Joins Diary of a Mad Housewife, A Woman Under The Influence and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore as top-notch examples of seventies films about women’s issues. Jill Clayburgh‘s finest career moment (the role earned her Best Actress honours at Cannes) features her as an upper-middle-class Manhattan housewife whose life falls apart when her husband (Michael Murphy) announces out of the blue that he’s leaving her for someone else. ‘Balls, said the queen’ she tells herself in the mirror, ‘if I had them I’d be king.’
Now she must find a new direction to take in this generation caught between the women whose main career motivation was marriage, and the modern day Fonda-esque female who seeks independence. In her quest for self-discovery she begins to discover the possibility that becoming single again is one of the best things that could have happened to her.
Paul Mazursky’s masterpiece is a clear indication of Hollywood’s rarely seen ability to present riveting films that centre around character development and behavioural examination, without resorting to any cheaply exploitative genre mechanisms to sell them to a pre-packaged audience. Alan Bates co-stars as the new man in Clayburgh’s life who could possibly be a change for the better or a return to form for her.
The Criterion Collection: #1032
Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actress (Jill Clayburgh); Best Original Screenplay
Cannes Film Festival Award: Best Actress (Jill Clayburgh)
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actress-Drama (Jill Clayburgh); Best Director (Paul Mazursky); Best Screenplay; Best Original Score