When upon its theatrical release I first saw 'An Unmarried Woman' I thought it brilliantly captured the feminist outlook - not the radical feminist viewpoint but the growing awareness of the vast majority of ordinary women of new modalities for living. I just saw it again on DVD and my first impression of the film holds up. But through my having aged my perspectives have matured, and now I also find 'An Unmarried Woman' to be perhaps the finest capturing of 1977's zeitgeist - but only the zeitgeist of upper middle class New Yorkers (Mazursky better captured the wider 70's zeitgeist in 'Harry and Tonto).
Here Mazursky shows that, whatever else he is accused of being or doing or not-doing (with which I don't always agree or disagree), is a thoughtful director taking a good, long, realistic look at this drama and at more than just its central character. I liked that some scenes ran on for a bit longer than some people find necessary or comfortable, because this is how life's scenes often play out beyond one's wanting them to end swiftly and tidily: indeed, the slight overrunning of some scenes contributes what today might be called "value-added" realism to 'An Unmarried Woman.' After all, Erica has, involuntarily, been thrust into a new life in which she's not at ease in every one of its developing, novel situations.
The saxophone score - probably considered hip in 1977 - is today often more than a trifle annoying; but then it could be said that the score is part of the film's capture of the 70's zeitgeist: like all decades the 70's had its annoyances (not the least of which was the dismal monotony of disco, and all those decor-saturating browns, olives (avocado it was called!), honey-golds, and tawny oranges).
The cinematography here is quite good, nicely tailored to the film's intimate subject, situations, and relationships. Throughout the acting is uniformly good; Jill Clayburgh's effort here is, and will remain I expect, a cinema original and classic. I especially enjoyed - not when I first saw the film but much more so now in 2006 - Cliff Gorman's portrayal of self-satisfied, on-the-make Charlie. Andrew Duncan in the minor role of Bob lends great verisimilitude with his pre-"hair systems" comb-over but especially with the touch of about-to-be-over-the-hill despair in Bob's attempt to bed Erica; Bob demonstrates that most men in that decade, beginning as they were to be flummoxed by emerging liberated women and feminism, still clung to the suddenly obsolescent notion that a divorcée would and should be eager to remarry in order to traditionally assure her security and peace of mind.
At my first viewing I agreed with what Tanya, Erica's therapist, said to Erica about guilt being a manufactured, unnecessary emotion. But a good many more years of living have taught me that guilt is not manufactured, and that without it a person is doomed to emptiness and isolation, and a society is doomed to decadence, and even to barbarism. Rather Tanya should have held that guilt is natural, and that it is one's mature management of it that enables one to distinguish, in oneself and in others, venality and narcissism from generosity of spirit.
'An Unmarried Woman' still stands on its own - more as a socio-cultural than as a cinematic landmark. It's that rare kind of film that's worth watching every five or ten years, if only to help us to recall where we've come from, and to help us to profit from, or to enjoy, a sense of where we might be going.
An Unmarried Woman
Comedy / Drama / Romance
An Unmarried Woman
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Erica is unmarried only temporarily, in that her successful, wealthy husband of seventeen years has just left her for a girl he met while buying a shirt in Bloomingdale's. This movie shows Erica coming to terms with the break-up, while revising her opinions of herself, redefining that self in its own right rather than as an extension of somebody else's personality, and finally going out with another man. Erica refuses to drop everything for Saul, an abstract expressionist painter, simply out of love for him, because he expects her to. It is not so much loneliness that is her problem, and the problems that men, flitting around this newly "available" woman like moths round a flame, bring to her sense of independence.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
June 25, 2020 at 05:25 AM