Woody Allen is an interesting figure in film. Allen is one of the most prolific filmmakers in history, producing a film almost every year for over 50 years. As a result, he has some of the most critically acclaimed comedies in his filmography, but the downside is that he also has some of the most mediocre films in his library to. Arrow Academy collects seven Woody Allen films on Blu-ray from 1986-1991, one of which is Another Woman. So the question then becomes is this film one of Allen’s best, or a middling piece of forgettable celluloid.
The film follows Marion Post, played by Gena Rowlands, a middle-aged Philosophy professor, who while writing her book accidentally overhears a therapy session through a vent. This session triggers Marion to critically reassess her life, her mistakes, regrets and her behaviour toward other people.
This is going to be a hard one to talk about. This is not because it was incredibly bad or so good that I cannot put it into words, but because it is entirely forgettable. I usually leave reviews a couple of days to let my thoughts gestate, but now that I come to write this article about Another Woman, I can't really remember it other than the fact that it was mind-numbingly dull.
Many critics have praised the film for its use of Sven Nykvist's cinematography, Nykvist being a frequent collaborator with Ingmar Bergman. But to be honest, the thing that stuck with me was how brown the film was. Brown clothes, brown walls, brown buildings even brown air. It was just a very flat looking film, with none of the originality or creativity that Bergman had.
The performances are understated which is fine, and the cast is full of top notch actors; Ian Holm, Mia Farrow, Gena Rowlands and Gene Hackman. But the problem is what the actors are given to do. The script is full of painful conversations that these great performers have no idea how to deal with. A tale of self-exploration and change is fine in itself, but not when it is written so haphazardly; it is full of cliches and stilted exchanges, awkward reveals and strange speeches. The voice-over speaks of the great displays of emotions, but there are none; it is a film that tells you what it is, rather than allowing you to look for the subtleties as it doesn't trust the audience to find them for themselves.
There are some slightly interesting sequences in the film, the dream/play for instance is one such example. But most of the time there is no spark, no ineffable quality that makes the film come together in the way that Woody Allen probably intended. It is too full of pretention and highmindedness to allow for any heart to enter.
Perhaps the film would work better as a play. In fact, it was inspired by Chekov so perhaps then the stilted dialogue and uninventive construction would make more sense. There is no drama, in this drama, there is no dynamism about change in this film about change. It is a stilted list of books that Woody Allen has read that you haven't, and I find that remarkably pretentious. At least when the great masters of cinema attempt subtly they are modest about it.
One wonders whether the film needed to be presented on Blu-Ray. Arrow Academy do a good job on the mechanics of the disc, there are no audio or visual glitches or faults. The menus are good, and easy to navigate. The Subtitles are clear, and I had no trouble reading them. But the film is not enhanced by the high definition display, other than highlighting the different shades of brown that are on screen.
There are no extras, only a theatrical trailer, which has become so expected by this point it is probably not worth talking about.
While I am personally not a fan of Woody Allen, I can see how some of his better films have come to be considered classics. However I cannot agree with the praise that Another Woman gets; it is a boring slog of a film, and with no extras to speak of on the disc, which may be due to the nature of the collection, I cannot recommend this film at all.