Women, Influenced & Cassavettes

The first 30 minutes of Gloria Rowlands in John Cassavettes' "Woman Under the Influence" is a role any actress would kill for, but few could play. She's mesmerizing in a trip to a bar, looking for a drink, while her husband works for the water department late one night; after a languid five minute sequence getting chatted up by a lonely loser at the bar, she is being groped in her own house and suddenly awakens to start fighting herself out of a near rape. She is distracted, swollen by the drink as all drunks are, pink and burpy, but she's also losing her marbles, losing her connection to the world that miraculously clings to her as mother, wife and neighbor. Why isn't this movie made today? Everythign is too slick, now, too seamless and perfect except when the nuts and bolts of perfection get in the way. Cassavettes gives you ten seconds at a time to establish his mood and directions, but then gives Rowlands all the time she needs to vex and vent. His hand is heavy to make a point, and a whisper when he lets you listen on your own terms, as a detached witness to disaster. And this accident isn't something you can say you saw coming; its effect is to leave you continually looking at the victims at the scene after the collision has happened, always a few seconds late. Masterful, beautiful, slowly contagious.