It’s my strong belief that Woody Allen’s work is at its best when he is doing two particular things – engaging in philosophical debate and writing for women. His masterful 1988 feature, Another Woman, shows glimmers of philosophy but primarily demonstrates just how well Allen knows women and their complexities. To enhance his insight into the female soul, Allen chose to cast Gena Rowlands. Mia Farrow also features but it is Gena Rowlands stunning performance that makes Another Woman as outstanding as this director’s other serious work, such as Interiors. Rowlands brings all of the recklessness and vulnerability present in her work with husband John Cassavetes to Another Woman. Here, the emotion is below the surface. The chaos we see in the likes of A Woman Under the Influence is all hidden behind an upper-class mask. When she repeatedly overhears a stranger’s admissions during their therapy session, Marion is forced to reassess many decisions she has made throughout her life. The brutal honesty she hears through her air vent causes her to confront her marriage, her friendships and her lost loves. As with all of Allen’s greatest works, Another Woman explores the meaning of the universe. Here it is the universe of one individual that takes centre stage and we join Marion on her journey of self discovery, meaning and mistakes.
Mia Farrow, undoubtedly the greatest actress with whom Allen collaborated, also shines in Another Woman. Together both women will learn about themselves through the other. Another Woman is all about the truths we hide from those around us but, most importantly ourselves. Another Woman celebrates the revelation that we are never alone and sometimes it takes the confessions of another to make us re-evaluate our purpose and actions up until now. This is familiar territory for both Rowlands and Farrow who know how to portray the depths of complicated women. The film moves in and out of dream like sequences whilst incorporating an unusual type of voice-over. Marion narrates her own story, making us feel closer to her. This reflects her privacy and isolation from all those around her. After overhearing the first therapy session, Marion’s life suddenly begins to move in a specific way, forcing her to confront ghosts from her past. Marion knows that her marriage is damaged, she knows her relationship with her brother has weakened. Allen manages to highlight just how important it is for us to be conscious of such facts of life but also warns us about the dangers of not amending them. Amongst the greatest works of this director, Another Woman gets a little lost. He has made better films about women, about relationships and about the world, but there is something private and personal about Another Woman and the attention it pays to one individual. Allen elegantly picks up the microscope along with the camera and the results are a tragic but triumphant insights into the sorrows and conflicts of everyday life. Another Woman is a unique and highly sensitive piece of cinema.
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