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Another Woman (1988)

by on 2012/08/13

“I don’t think she can part with the lies.”

* * * *

I know a thing or two about divorce and broken homes. When I was quite young, my grandparents divorced, which was a little like Santa and Mrs. Claus bickering over the property division of the Toy Workshop.

Then my parents divorced, starting a trend in my small rural community that saw marriages, acreage by acreage, falling like dominos.

As a result, I never liked the idea of marriage.

Another Woman is about the excruciating, impossible reality of dysfunctional families and bad relationships. It is all there – the petty jealousies, suffocating boredom, anger boiling below the surface, the loveless hours (weeks, months), the infidelity, the infidelity, the infidelity.

Fun for the whole tortured family.

The action – if action isn’t too strong a word …think empty corridors and ticking clocks – centres on the great Gena Rowlands (The Notebook) who plays a carefully controlled and self-possessed German philosophy professor named Marion Post.

On her second marriage, she’s taken a leave of absence to write a book. The New York apartment she’s rented has an unexpected feature – she can hear psychotherapy sessions through the vents. In this case, it is Mia Farrow in racked, agonized, full-flight self-confession.

Now I should confess in the spirit of therapy, that an uncharitable part of me is irritated by Mia Farrow’s wispy, woodland elf whingeing. You know, that breathy, airy quality she has when she’s pouring out her earth mother heart. Now imagine that voice filtered through the vents of a brownstone.

That’s Farrow’s role in this film, she is a warning wraith, a guiding spirit for Prof. Post to learn about her own emptiness, hypocrisy and pain.

Believe me, there is pain by the teetering bookcase. There’s Post’s painful familial politics, a strained relationship with her older brother, and her infirm, lonely father. She also has a packed lifetime of past regrets – an affair with older professor in school, the loss of a friend due to the “seduction” her friend’s partner, and now a loveless second marriage that began inauspiciously through cheating.

The marriage in question is with dull “prig” Dr. Ken Post, played Ian Holm (The Sweet Hereafter). The man waiting in the wings is Gene Hackman (The Quick and the Dead).

The greatness of this film is in the performances and the surgically accurate script.

If you seek truth more than entertainment, you’ll want a copy of Another Woman. There is truth by the torrential downpour in this sober, sobering Woody Allen film. I could have written down the entire script to use as quotable quotes.

So again to quote the movie, “I was probably just trying to be truthful.” And how. Another Woman is so truthful on the subject of marriage, romantic love and family, it will make you ache.

This is the chapter and verse of the bad relationship by St. Woody.

* * * *

81 minutes

Rated PG

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