A Kaufman Plug: Woman Under the Influence

Charlie Kaufman’s an influencer, not the Instagram type, more of the cinematic and literary type. Having attempted to read a book he mentions in Antkind (The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, blech, a shallow, yet ironic attempt to analyze our fixation with beauty), I took a crack at Woman Under the Influence from 1974 (after the characters in “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” talk about the film at great length) by the late great father of Independent Film-John Cassavetes.

I did finish the movie as uber difficult that it was due to my own PTSD from domestic squabbles in my youth. Yet now I have to go back to “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” to grasp the critique of the female character. I’m hoping (and almost sure) she recounted how the people surrounding the Woman in Woman Under the Influence were just as crazy as she. The Woman by the way was portrayed marvelously by Gena Rowlands for which she won the Golden Globe, aside trivia: Cassavetes wife.

Peter Falk wasn’t just kooky Columbo, he was a powerhouse actor as Gena’s equally insane husband. I loved his angry ‘we’re going to have fun kids!’) mentality. I think Adam Sandler would do a great rem-make of this as long as the Safdies’ are willing to direct. I thought a lot of the Safdies’ during this film, as their upbringing was almost as chaotic and brought to film wonderfully in Daddy Long-legs.

I literally was concerned about the welfare of the three children in the film as the scenes they had to perform were traumatic. On IMDB, it appears the two boys made it out alive into adulthood, but the little girl (Christina Grisanti) doesn’t not have an internet footprint which worries me. If you want to know the extent of extremes, Christina was dragged around by her arm several times by Peter Falk, had tea (praying it was cold) splashed in her eye and ran around naked in a house full of people. Can you see why I became a School Counselor?

At any rate, the movie certainly will stick with you and is available for free on HBO.

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