Watching all of Woody Allen's films in order: Another Woman (1988)

Then A rare example of a film that I watched during a television broadcast which was on Boxing Day 1994 according to the BFI’s film database. I fell asleep. Which interesting because I fell asleep on this occasion as well. What we have here is Woody Allen film as possible cure for insomnia.

Now One of Woody’s more obvious filmic experiments, in Another Woman he asks whether its possible to have an intellectual as a sympathetic character within a relationship drama. Generally in films, the sympathetic clever people tend to be boffins prophesising then battling against global decimation, detectives or within a story in which their learnin’ is beside the point. In Another Woman, Gina Rowlands’s character is confronted with the truth that her intellect has subsumed her emotional side leading her to distance herself from those who are supposed to closest to her.

Unfortunately, and this demonstrates the failure of the experiment, she also succeeds in distancing the audience from her as well. That’s not technically because of Gina Rowlands’s performance. She’s accomplishing what Woody called upon her to do which is to shut down the more histrionic elements of her work with Cassavettes. It’s simply that as the director suspected because he nearly puts the words in Mia Farrow’s pregnant mother’s mouth, we’re unable to unpick the connection between the characters life and accomplishments and her attitude, understand why someone like that could be so neurotic.

The director originally envisioned the central idea as a comedy. A man moves into an apartment next door to a psychiatrists office and like Rowlands hears the confessions of a young lady which he then uses to help or seduce her. He then switched the idea, in a pre-echo of Melina and Melinda, to see what it would happen if it was a woman and a drama and a Bergmanesque piece at that. Perhaps his mistake was to draw it even further away and make Farrow’s character even less consequential, not have the two real characters meet too far into the picture, preferring instead to shift their connection into dream sequences and the metaphysical.

It seems as though Rowlands’s learning experience could have been in taking this daughter-like figure under her wing helped along by the extra insight provided by her eavesdropping, forever changing her own behaviour to accommodate whatever Mia is thinking of her, more of a two-hander, a rare occasion when Allen’s ability to gathered a wonderful cast works against the product. Not that there isn’t a guilty pleasure in seeing Hackman, Holm, Plimpton and Danner in a Woody Allen film – it’s an example from this period of the director moving away from his typical repertory – except in this case they’re a distraction from the main point.

Here, nevertheless is my favourite scene. "I've never liked you. By the way, can I borrow some money?"

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