USA Today - 09/18/1992
"...Oft-shattering....Uneasily lifelike..." -- 4 out of 4 stars
Chicago Sun-Times - 01/04/1998
"...A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE is perhaps the greatest of Cassavetes' films..."
Uncut - 10/01/2005
"Rowlands, Oscar-nominated for her unforgettable performance...is pushed remorselessly into a full-blown breakdown..."
Total Film - 11/01/2012 4 stars out of 5 -- "Gena Rowlands, always at her finest for director husband John Cassavetes, gives a tour de force turn as a working-class mother sliding into mental illness."
Sight and Sound - 11/01/2012
"Cassavetes's grainy, grabby masterpiece of mental breakdown and marital disharmony gives off a palpable feminist charge."
John Cassavetes's A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE is an emotionally devastating drama that charts the mental disintegration of a California housewife. Mabel Longhetti (Gena Rowlands) has no emotional or creative outlets. Instead, she pours all her energy into her family, spending her days waiting for her husband Nick (Cassavetes regular and COLUMBO star Peter Falk) to arrive home from work, and anxiously awaiting her children's return from school. This dependence causes Mabel to suffer a nervous breakdown, forcing her to spend time in a mental hospital. Meanwhile, Nick struggles mightily to keep his family together. When Mabel returns six months later, dazed and shaken, a "welcome home" party threatens to trigger another collapse.
As the confused, overwhelmed, and hypersensitive Mabel, Rowlands delivers one of the screen's most excruciatingly honest performances. This can directly be attributed to Rowlands's real-life husband Cassavetes, whose insistence on getting to the inner core of his characters' emotional states defined him as an artist. Falk portrays Nick with a harsh yet delicate pathos that is also honest and heartbreaking. A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE is an awe-inspiring work of art from a maverick American director.
Description by Image Entertainment:
John Cassavetes' devastating drama details the emotional breakdown of a suburban housewife and her family's struggle to save her from herself. Starring Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands (in two of the most harrowing screen performances of the 1970s) as a married couple deeply in love yet unable to express that love in terms the other can understand, the film is an uncompromising portrait of domestic turmoil. The Criterion Collection is proud to present one of the benchmark films of American independent cinema: a heroic document from a true maverick director. Available for the first time as a stand-alone release, from the box set John Cassavetes: Five Films.
Writer-director-actor John Cassavetes delivers an extremely gritty, unsentimental portrait of a troubled human existence. Gena Rowlands is Mabel Longhetti, a slightly mad Italian-American housewife who has absolutely no understanding of herself, or her individuality, other than through her family. When her deep psychological unhappiness and repression spiral too far out of control one evening, she is committed to an institution by her fed-up husband (an intense Peter Falk of the TV series COLUMBO); yet she returns six months later in worse shape than when she left. Rowlands's performance earned her a well-deserved Oscar nomination; real-life husband Cassavetes's directing also garnered him the same. The film is an emotionally draining, powerful work that stands as a historic American achievement from a wholly original auteur and pioneer working in the earliest days of independent film.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Family Interaction |
Mental Illness |
Theatrical release: November 15, 1974 (New York City)
Premiered at the New York Film Festival October 12, 1974.
The film was shot on location in Los Angeles, California.
A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1990.
Director John Cassavetes was so convinced of the film's universal appeal that he booked it at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, where it failed to find an audience.
Cassavetes and Rowlands were nominated for Academy Awards in 1975 (for Best Director and Best Actress, respectively).