When my friend first described this movie to me, I was very hesitant about it. But I ended up being glad that I gave it a try, so keep that in mind when you read this. “Interiors” is a Woody Allen film, released in 1978, and is not really anything like your typical family drama. There is no heartfelt speech at the end that reconciles years of tension, there’s almost no humor, and no music. That’s off putting isn’t it, the idea of a movie with no music, and I have to admit that it was slightly unsettling at first but it is so clearly absent to set a certain tone that I quickly accepted it.
The plot of the movie is simple (and fans of the band “Death Cab for Cutie” will recognize it – they inexplicably wrote a song about it) . Three grown up sisters, who are all artists of some kind (a writer, an actress, and the last one struggles to have success at an artistic outlet), are trying to deal with the care of their overbearing and depressed mother, who is a failing interior designer. The mother has never gotten over the fact that her husband left her – she is still convinced that they will eventually reconcile, and her daughters have no choice but to entertain that delusion. The three daughters are shown interacting with their husbands, revealing the stress that their mother causes for them, and their marriages, and one gives a monologue to her therapist about the mother, which becomes both a voiceover and a way of transitioning between scenes. It’s clear from the beginning that none of the daughters are the “hero” of this story. There is no hero of the story. One of the most interesting things about it is that every character is deeply flawed. I didn’t like a single one. But the story and the relationships were realistic enough to make me keep watching. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion – you can’t look away, even though you know it could never end well. The writing of the movie was one of its strongest points. The dialogue was extraordinary.
The other strong part was the brilliant acting by everyone involved. It was incredible to watch, every character was fully fleshed out and realistic enough to make me forget that they’re not real at all. Even though I disliked the characters as people, for how they dealt with situations and each other, I still sympathized with them enough that I was invested in their stories. This story held very little hope for anybody involved, but it still wasn’t so depressing as to make me want to stop watching.
This movie is grounded in its relationships and character interactions, which were at times so subtle and complicated that I struggled to keep up. I watched it with friends who had seen it before, and they were able to catch me up, but if you watch it then just be sure to pay very close attention to things. This is not a movie that you can let your mind wander during. The shot style and the editing style is very restrained, in that it’s there to show you around the scene but not control any part of it – the characters drive everything, the camera is merely there to quietly observe them. My one problem with it was the ending – it really goes off the rails in the last fifteen-twenty minutes or so. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means though.
I’d recommend this movie, but I’d also say that it requires some patience and a willingness to sit and watch something that is going to make you feel rather hopeless for an hour or so.
Images Interiors a 20th Century Fox (c) courtesy
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