A Woman Under the Influence

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 – 7:30pm
Director: John Cassavetes

Cast: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, Katherine Cassavetes

John Cassavetes was inspired to write A Woman Under the Influence
when his wife Gena Rowlands expressed a desire for a role about the
difficulties faced by contemporary women. After trying to raise money
for the project and being told “no one wants to see a crazy, middle-aged
dame,” Cassavetes mortgaged his own home and borrowed from family and
friends (including Peter Falk). Rowlands plays Mabel Longhetti, a Los
Angeles housewife and mother of three married to Nick (Peter Falk), head
of a construction crew. In their chaotic Italian-American household,
Nick thinks nothing of bringing his entire crew over for spaghetti — at
7:00 am after an all-nighter! Mabel is expected to cook. As played by
Falk, Nick lives at a perpetual bursting point, shouting and storming
and always on. Mabel is insecure, childlike, hyper; she behaves
strangely, especially when other people are around. As her behaviour
becomes increasingly erratic, Nick reluctantly has her committed to an
institution. Left alone with his children, Nick soon proves to be no
better or wiser a parent than his wife. Now considered a classic of
American cinema, Cassavetes’s self-distributed film turned a respectable
profit and earned two Academy Award nominations, for Rowlands as Best
Actress and Cassavetes as Best Director. Colour, screening format TBA. 155 mins.

Post-screening discussion with Michael van den Bos, a
Vancouver-based film teacher, writer, historian and producer. Michael
spent 20 years in the Vancouver animation industry, producing a variety
of animated television programming and short theatrical cartoons.
Currently, he teaches Film Theory at the Vancouver Film School; Film
History at the Pacific Audio Visual Institute; and the History of
Character Animation at Capilano University. Michael writes a bi-monthly
film column called “Cinemascope” for Vancouver View magazine and film reviews and film essays for his website/blog “Movie Mad.”

Moderated by Caroline Coutts. Programmer of the
Frames of Mind Monthly Mental Health Film Series since its inception in
September 2002, Caroline is also a filmmaker and a programmer at the
Knowledge Network, B.C.’s public educational broadcaster.


“Perhaps the greatest of Cassavetes’s films.”

Chicago Sun-Times | full review

“Miss Rowlands unleashes an extraordinary
characterization of a harried, anxious creature, who’s convinced that
she “makes a jerk of” herself every day.”

New York Times | full review

“One of Cassavetes’ best films, with a
suitably ambiguous title for a plot that manages to be political in its
social implications without succumbing to any crass statements.”

Time Out London | full review