I am a big fan of both John Casavettes and Gena Rowlands and this is perhaps their greatest achievement together! Ms. Rowlands gives the performance of a lifetime!

A Woman Under the Influence Review

A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Product name: A Woman Under the Influence (1974)


Mabel is a loving wife and mother, but her apparent madness proves to be a major problem in her marriage, even as she gets more scorn than acceptance from the society! Click here for more information!


Special features of this edition:


Recommended age:

All Ages

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Below is a summary of the feedback we gathered from the product's ACTUAL customers:


* I am a big fan of both John Casavettes & Gena Rowlands and this is perhaps their greatest achievement together! Ms. Rowlands gives the performance of a lifetime!

* A great movie that makes you uncomfortable with its "verite" style approach and kitchen sink realism! Only a few actors could portray Nick's character in the realistic way that Peter Falk did, and Gena Rowland's performance is nothing less than amazing!

* Gena Rowlands is absolutely wonderful as Mabel - the blue collar, suburban housewife of Nick, and Peter Falk is skillful in his portrayal of the husband who loves his wife but cannot understand her plight or desperation! Only Mabel's little children understand the troubles of their mother well, and they accept and love her "as she is" and Mabel likewise reciprocates their feelings.

* If you are a serious collector of movies, this is the first movie you should own and watch! Gena Rowland's performance as the woman losing her final grips on society is heartbreaking, and the direction of John Cassavetes requires a lot of intelligence and patience on the part of the viewer!

* This movie should be watched for the magnificent, Golden-Globe award winning performance of Gena Rowlands alone, if for nothing else! At times it is doubtful whether she is really acting or just being herself!

* The story of this movie has been wrongly described as the story of a "mad housewife". Nothing could be further from the truth! The story here is the story almost everyone can relate to! This is the kind of movie that can change your life if you let it, so check out one of the greatest movies ever made!

* This is one of the best films ever made! Once you are done watching this movie, you would not look at Ms. Rowlands in the same way again! She is truly a film goddess!

* This movie has nothing to do with alcoholism, as has been wrongly suggested!

* This movie is worth watching! The heart of the film is the relationship between Nick and Mabel and the ups and downs they go through. Just when you thought that Nick is a typical, patient, suffering husband who loves his wife, he shows you that his character is much more complex than that! Mabel is even more amazing; there is not a single mannerism or facial expression of her that go wasted. Perhaps one of the most painful things to watch is her desire to connect with others on her level, as well as her desperate appeal to her father to "stand up" for her!

* I lived through the same issues that plagued Mabel; as such, this movie was like a catharsis for me. The story is so true to my life that at times I felt that someone was spying on me with his camera!

* This movie is a courageous and uncompromising portrayal of a married couple who, although very much in love, are not mentally stable and cannot communicate with each other fluently in the presence of another, "less compassionate" person! I was fascinated by the excellent performances of both Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands!

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* Although the movie is great, the DVD is awful and of sub-standard quality!

* The lead performances are good; however the story is a bit off-beat and not a very cheerful or happy one!

* Not only there were no extra features with this "Special Edition" DVD, the DVD itself was also double-sided, which was a bummer for me!

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I think this film is more of a social satire than anything else! I mean, the main character, Mabel, is not really "mad" in a clinical way; she is an immature personality who would rather behave like a small girl than the responsible adult that society expects her to be! That said, in spite of her "madness" she loves her children and her husband very much, and performs her household chores. In the bar scene when she talks about "re-naming" Nick, it is apparent how much she misses her husband due to his being away from home for such a long time (for his job).

Throughout the first half of the movie she behaves like a child, be it with her husband, her kids, or even the guests. Her husband Nick knows that she is just being unusual and not "crazy" at all, but unfortunately for him, he does not have the guts to "stand up" for his wife and rebel against the conventional social norms; he allows himself to be shamed by the discomfort that the other people around him were experiencing due to the "silly" acts of his wife; at the same time, he loves her too much to have the heart to commit her to a mental institution.

However, when she starts behaving the same way with the kids of Harold Jensen and even with Harold, Nick finally has Mabel committed, although with reluctance!

If you watch this movie you would realize that Mabel was committed due to her "being herself" because the society expects her to behave in a more mechanical, conventional manner; the society also expects her husband to "tame" her in case she misbehaves, which is why Nick tries to "tame her" by hitting out and shouting at her. However, once she is committed, the director shows us that Nick is no less insane than his wife, that he is neither wiser nor any more efficient at accepting his position and role in society; in fact, his insanity is probably even worse, but he was not committed, for he was too weak and not brave enough (unlike his wife Mabel) to pose a threat to the society!

And when Mabel finally gets "cured" of her "madness" and starts to behave in a more conventional manner, her husband hits out at her again; this time because she was not being herself! What an irony!

Don't expect it to be a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest type of movie because while in the latter, the director tries to present the material to the viewer in a "journalistic" manner, in the former the director literally challenges the viewer into lending his compassions to the character of Mabel while watching the seemingly "un-watch-able". Also, the protagonist in this movie is not really mentally ill, as I said before; she is eccentric, panicky, and gutsy; in a way, she is unconventional, and she was committed due to her eccentric and unconventional nature, rather than her madness.

In a way, this movie is not really a movie; this is more like a docu-drama that revolves around a person suffering from a certain kind of unidentified personality disorder! This movie is not for the squeamish of the heart; it is certainly not for the average viewer who is looking for cheap thrills or quick action. Majority of the viewers today are made up of chickens such as Nick who really cannot appreciate good cinema, the reason why films such as this are not made anymore; in fact, Cassavetes's movie precisely mocks those types of people - people who lack both intelligence and the courage to show their true feelings.

There is hardly any loud or showy performances which one would expect from a conventional movie! All the characters behave realistically and at times you would forget that you are actually watching a movie, thanks to the verite-style direction of Cassavetes!

Ms. Rowlands delivers a superlative performance and it is a shame she did not win an Oscar for this movie! It is as if she was really the "mentally ill" person she was portraying here! Occasionally her performance tends to shift to the "melodramatic" but overall, I believe that it is a very realistic performance that is authentic to the core!

The movie is so intense that I could not watch it in a single sitting; I watched the first half on one day and then the second half (after Mabel gets committed) the next day! In a way, I believe this is a good way to watch this film; if you try to watch the whole of it at once, you would not probably understand the film properly and get bored! However, watching it in two halves on two different days would mean that you are giving your brain enough time to digest the content really well, thereby, enabling it to appreciate the entire film much better! Perhaps the director too intended it to be watched that way?

Notice that even after getting "cured" Mabel is not whole-heatedly accepted into the society which had previously colluded in her commitment, so much so that she had to resort to suicidal behavior such as slitting her wrist, or the childish behavior of doing a jig on the couch! The ending, although a happy one, is a natural ending, not a forced, cop-out style ending like that of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore! Finally, here is one Hollywood movie that portrays the "eccentric" people with compassion, rather than in the typical, hackneyed style!

I am not sure if this movie was a success back in its day; however, I doubt it would be a success if released today. Aside from a few cine-intellectuals, I think majority of the viewers would either be repulsed (because it is about them) or bored (because they won't "get it") by it! It is the type of movie that asks for too much from the viewer, and although the viewer is amply compensated, I doubt that people in the modern "digital age" would watch this movie with the kind of patience and commitment that it requires!

So, in short, if you want to be entertained, this is NOT the type of movie that you would want to watch; but, if you are a cinephile who appreciates quality cinema, then definitely give it a watch!

Mabel is not crazy, she's unusual. She's not crazy, so don't say she's crazy!

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Actors: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, Katherine Cassavetes
Directors: John Cassavetes
Writers: John Cassavetes
Producers: Sam Shaw
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Geneon [Pioneer] DVD Release Date: March 24, 1998
Run Time: 155 minutes


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