US, 1988, 84 minutes, Colour.
Gena Rowlands, Mia Farrow, Ian Holm, Blythe Danner, Gene Hackman, Betty Buckley, Martha Plimpton, John Houseman, Sandy Dennis, David Ogden Stiers, Philip Bosco, Harris Yulin, Frances Conroy, Kenneth Welsh.
Directed by Woody Allen.
Another Woman is a fine Woody Allen film. In just over eighty minutes, he creates a gallery of vivid characters, often only in quick vignettes, but characters who embody human longings, anxieties, anguish and hopes. Allen’s writing is perceptive, especially as the plot unfolds through the comments and experiences of Marion (Gena Rowlands in a superbly controlled performance holding the film together).
The group we watch, as with most of the characters in Allen’s films, are affluent, very well educated and self-conscious about their personal and psychological problems. They are an elite. But they dramatise, by their intensity and their articulate speeches, basic human problems. The film shows Ingmar Bergman’s influence in the portraits, symbols and a powerful dream sequence. Mia Farrow portrays a woman in therapy, a kind of mirror and guardian of Marion. The cast is star-filled, but working excellently as an ensemble. Serious Woody Allen portraits. (In the same vein as his 1978, Tribute to Ingmar Bergman, Interiors, this time echoing Bergman’s Wild Strawberries.)
1.A drama for an adult audience? Personal crises? Self-understanding?
2.The film in Woody Allen’s canon, serious, homage to and influence of Ingmar Bergman in theme and visual style? Interiors? The debt to Bergman’s Wild Strawberries? Woody Allen making this film in his early fifties?
3.New York, the streets, homes, apartments, restaurants, the theatre? A film also of interiors?
4.The flashbacks, the visual style, a more open landscape than the interiors?
5.The dream sequence, the streets, the theatre? The interchanging of characters?
6.The range of songs, classical music, Bach? The use of the music for characters and situations?
7.The characters, middle-class, professional, educated, cultured, philosophical background, the arts, taste?
8.The strong cast?
9.Gena Rowlands as Marion, the strength of her performance, the focus of the film? Age, presence, appearance? The quality of her voice-over? Its tone? The contrast with Hope, Hope as another woman? Marion and Hope being the same woman? The alter-ego theme? Hope voicing Marion’s subconscious? Her doubts? Marion overhearing this, intrigued, covering the sound, listening? Hope’s appearance in her dream? Marion following her? Hope as a catalyst for discovery of the truth? Their meeting in the shop, Hope weeping, the talk, the restaurant? Marion saying she talked more about herself? Hope and the themes of self-deception, letting go the lies, initiating suicide? Marion watching hope, talking to the psychiatrist? Wanting to make contact with Hope? Hope having left, signifying that she was healed? Hope’s version of Marion’s life? Marion telling this to herself? Marion and her becoming calm, reconciling, becoming another woman?
10.Marion and her life, at a young age, as a little girl, her relationship with her father, his suppressing emotions? Her love for Paul, yet her bluntness in comments to him? Paul idealising her yet hating her? Her study, the professor, the affair, marriage? Wanting a career, not wanting a child? Hope telling the psychiatrist that Marion had an abortion, that this still affected her? Separation from Sam, the memories of Sam, fifteen years later his overdosing on alcohol and pills, her going to his funeral? Her friendship with Larry, the affair with Ken, while he was still married? The engagement party, Kathy’s arrival, her outburst? Marion and the talking with Larry, the kiss? His trying to persuade her not to marry Ken? Marion and her friends, Mark and Lydia and the discussions, the outings, the restaurant?
11.Marion deciding to write the book, taking leave of absence from classes, describing leading the apartment, her moods, trying to write, dozing, overhearing the man talking about his homosexual experiences to the psychiatrist, wanting to cover the sound? Hope, her talk, listening, the cushion? Her being disturbed? Talking with Ken? Her life with Ken, professional, going out every night, wanting to stay at home? Sexual relationships, absence, no time alone? The talk of sex on the floor, Lydia and her embarrassment? Her memories of Larry, the engagement party? Ken talking, the anniversary, the gifts, her going to the shop, not buying him anything? The thoughts of going to Philadelphia where they first met? In the restaurant with Hope, noticing Ken, seeing him with Lydia? Her relationship with Laura, strength, the phone call, giving her advice, their friendship, the outing? Her comment about her indiscretion in talking to her father about sexual activity? Telling her the truth about her break with Ken?
12.Lydia and Mark, friends, New York society, the talk about sex, Mark and his drinking, the discussions about the anniversary dinner, the affair between Lydia and Ken?
13.Laura, her character, her highly sensitive mother, the mother’s appearance at the engagement party? Marion’s concern about Laura? Laura and her sexual relationship? Her comments about Marion being judgmental? Her agreeing to the separation between Marion and Ken? Marion wanting to remain friends?
14.The episode with Claire: the past memories, the close friendship, not having met for a long time, the chance meeting in the street, Claire as an actress, introduction to her husband, going for the drink, the talk, Claire’s jealousy, her husband’s reaction, the talk about the past, accusing Marion of being seductive, even subconsciously? Claire in her dream? And with Ken?
15.Paul’s wife, meeting her in the street, late for the appointment, wanting to borrow the money, the talk of the divorce, talking about Paul hating Marion, Marion’s being uncomfortable, the woman saying that Marion, for all her sensitivity, lacked awareness?
16.Paul, in the memories, his relationship with his father, his father wanting him to have the job, Marion and her education? Marion’s visit to him, their talk, his work in the office, the divorce, his remembering his writing, Marion’s very blunt comments, wanting to tell the truth? The effect on her? Her later visit, apology, wanting to start again?
17.Marion and her experiencing the critiques: Laura saying she was judgmental, her sister-in-law and Paul’s hatred, her inability to see the truth? Claire accusing her of being seductive? Paul, her father, Ken? Larry Lewis?
18.The glimpse of Marion’s father as an old man, the visit, his monologues and explanation of himself, his life, going to the psychiatrist, talking about his marriage and his less-than-love for his wife, his concern about his daughter and her suppression of feelings?
19.Larry, the chance meeting, their talk, memories, in the rain, kissing in the underpass, the novel, her calm attitude, deciding to read it, imagining the character – and Larry saying that she was passionate?
20.Marion becoming a new woman, an opportunity for new awareness, listening to the critique, her becoming calm, writing, her future?