Bender--A Meditation on Life and Art prompted in part by Cassavetes'
Faces and Ray Carney's writing
Making Faces? If you are having problems with Faces, go to Ray
Carney's writing. It is the best possible guide to this filmmaker's
work. A tour guide through a difficult landscape. Essential reading.
Yes, this film is one of the supreme masterworks of all of American
cinema. It is absolutely essential. Yes, it is "difficult." Yes,
it is "slow." But those standards are for enterainment.
Cassavetes wants to take us out of our ordinary ways of viewing.
He wants to deny us the escapism of "entertainment." That's
the point. If you have trouble with this film--good! If you find
it infuriating--good! If you find it not entertaining--good!
It wants to get under your skin. It wants to shake you up.
It is a deep exploration of manhood in America, of the power games
that men play with women, and of the other kinds of games women
victimize themselves with. Deeper than Citizen Kane, more abrasive
than Magnolia or American Beauty, Faces turns the camera on US.
It is not about someone else. It does want to annoy you. And if
you allow it to, without giving up or shutting your mind to it,
it will profoundly enlighten you.
I can't say more in the space available. Ray Carney's Cassavetes
on Cassavetes book and his web site devoted to Cassavetes www.Cassavetes.com
can throw more light on the subject. But trust me, this film can
change your life. Buy the DVD and study it. It can tell you a lot
about life if you let it teach you. It is one of the greatest works
of art in all of film. And the resistance it meets with is proof
The last time I saw
this film was last month. I saw it on a TV monitor, but it gives
me the same feelings I had when I saw it in a theater. The first
thing I want to comment on is the long play of its scenes. I have
read that Cassavetes loves to quit a scene completely if it doesn't
work on its own. Some people say that the film has five parts:
- The first with Richard
Frost and Eddie at Jeannie' s flat
- The fight and discussion
between Richard and Maria Frost when he decides to go back to
Jeannie' s apartment.
- The businessmen,
Jeannie and her friend and later Richard, in the flat
- Maria and her friends
with the gigolo, Chet, at Frost's home
- And the impressionant
final cut with Chet and Maria
You can do this, but I can see this film as a continuous narration...
I have seen this film four
times and every time I want to jump up and down and sing and yell
because the sheer impact of the work is so overwelming. The flow and
rhythm and pacing of FACES is just totally stunning. Seymour
Cassel's portrayal of a swinging club-hopper is one of the best and
most powerful performances by an actor that I have ever seen. The
fact that this is in comparison with the other actors brilliant performnaces
makes it all the more impressive. What is so stunning about FACES
is that it reveals truth like no other film. The truth just oozes
out and the viewer becomes immersed in it. You are unable to pull
away from it so you sit there totally engrossed. - Joe Kohley
An excellent portrayal
of a society coming apart. The mood is ugly and the vulnerable fall
prey to it. A facinating slice of mid-sixties suburbia conflict.
Amazing. Everything cassavetes
does is amazing. This is one of my favorites of all of his films which
are all favorites. Stunning. - Anne
I thought it was alright,
but a bit boring.
It wasn't very good. Long
tedious scenes intercut in such a way as to submerge any of the naturalistic
acting style Cassavettes so obviously strove for. But perhaps the
weakest element is Seymour Cassel, his goofball character being one
who would stand out in fourth grade recess as someone unusually immature
and witless. John Marley does what he can with the role, he shows
good acting chops, certainly, but a good performance in a lousy film
isn't worth as much as a small performance in a great film (The
Godfather). Spend time revisiting The Godfather instead.
Cassavetes loves the truth.
Emotions such as jealousy from Eddie, contempt from Maria and indifference
for want of attention from Richard. I personally need to watch this
movie again - several times over. i know Chet is important but i haven't
gotten that far yet. Cassavetes movies are for watching, enjoying,
and taking in - studying. He inspires one to truly experience one's
own emotion. KEM
The final scene with Dick
and Maria on the stairs; sitting one way, sitting another, going up,
going down, smoking, not talking, is the crescendo to a long slowly
building wave. The light pours down over them, and the angled doors
and doornobs frames the composition. Maria passes out of the scene
past the camera and Richard disappears upstairs. It's like an American
Ozu, only better. - M.Denil
... for real, I haven't
seen any better american art than Faces. it is a diamond in
the fucked up artscene of hamburgers and bruce willis.
Truth emerging from chaotic
denial. A couple who have become so afraid of growing old that they
can no longer relate to each other honestly. Their marriage has become
mechanism. A relationship being disintigrated by fear, reduced to
simply going through the motions. Husband seeks out Gena Rowlands
for the same reason wife seeks out Seymour Cassel - the other makes
them feel young again. Makes them feel excited and passionate and
new. They share brief moments, but the feelings evoked are dishonest
- opiates, in a way - designed to make them feel better about themselves.
For all the tenderness that may pass between Jeannie and Richard or
Chet and Maria, it is founded on an attempt to escape what they can
never get away from - they are getting closer to death. The choreography
in the last scene illustrates how Richard and Maria are undeniably
bonded, but determined to escape each other. They serve now only as
reminders to each other of age and mortality. They have lost the courage
I reject the big picture,
a "metaphoric slice of the suburban sixties" crap. All that stuff
is just weazel words. Cassavetes' vision was too strong for it to
be reduced to such bullshit. I think what John was aiming for in FACES
as in most of his work was a direct hit right to the face of these
people, these characters in his story, these particular human beings.
John wasn't interested in high minded film-making 101. He was interested
in life, in living, in human beings trying to live their lives in
a complicated world. Don't make the mistake of trying draw the big
picture around John's work. It's nothing like that and it resists
being reduced to such easy formulas. Now if your talking about easily
reducible film formulas... let's talk about Woody Allen. - Jack Florek
Copious Moods from hardcore
rigidity to mellow sorrow. A non-stop, at times confusing, loud drama
of reality that has a combination of several defective characteristics.
Only faithfulness could have placed a popuri of implied suggestions
and sensory impressions on film. Watch it, Love it. -Jose D. Hug
dude, this movie was totally
My favorite movie was Gloria.
I can't stand going to the theater anymore. Film is too predictable
with money behind its grain. Boring. I took a tip from one of Ray
Carney's essays and popped in Shadows......I hated it and was
SO BORED I fell asleep. Well, I hate to not finish a film so I finished
it the next day. I was so confused I decided to rewind it and play
it again!! This is insanity for me. I usually watch a flick once and
give it my review. FACES engulfed me the second (or second
and a half?) time. I realised that films don't have this punch anymore.
I'm looking hard but only Mike Leigh really confuses me and touches
me at the same time. Its fresh, its new, and I am never certain about
anything with all of Cassavetes films, but I bought them all. FACES
is my favorite. I deals with people struggling on the homefront and
thats more TRUE than any war film homefront could possess. Do yourself
a favor and try FACES, maybe you'll get lucky and fall asleep.
- Mike Yi
I watched this picture
last night... what a great film. When Richard walks in the room and
demands a divorce, whoo! What an awkward scene. What an awkward film.
All the nervous, fake laughter that everyone uses to cover the sadness
and pain in their lives. The four housewives partying with the aging
hipster, the abuse levelled at Jeanie from just about everybody, and
the gritty, unsentimental realism of Maria's pill overdose... damn
fine filmmaking. God bless 16mm, and God bless Cassavetes, the Raymond
Carver of film.
John Cassavets, perteneces
a esos pocos que han dominado el arte. A.M.C.
Ray Carney highly recommends the following essay on John Cassavetes'
Faces, written by Stephen Bender and posted at: http://www.americanidealism.com/stories.php?StoryID=43
My Take on Cassavetes? Genius.
by stephen_b on 5/8/2003 6:51PM
John Cassavetes, the
father of American independent film, directed one of the greatest
films ever made on the dark side of men and women's relations in
the United States. Released in 1968, his Faces plumbed the
depths of what his biographer Ray Carney called "the casual
brutality between men and women." Given the disturbingly frank
nature of some of the scenes, one almost can't help but come away
with anything but a fatalistic sense of Cassavetes' vision. And
yet, with some persistence, one might agree with the late director
and "see life as a struggle, and the real romance is in not
walking away from it
The point is to struggle to explore avenues
of understanding to the greatest extent possible. That is a great
mystery of life."
With the passage of time,
John Cassavetes has had bestowed upon him the title "father
of American independent film." His Shadows, shot in
1959 on a shoestring on the streets of New York using volunteer
actors, innovatively delved into the ambiguities of life in the
United States as the children of mixed race (African American and
Caucasian) parentage. In fact, the depiction is so supple that the
viewer isn't even aware of this thematic until well into the film.
Interviewed in Cassavetes on Cassavetes, compiled by his
biographer Ray Carney, (who also authored The Films of John Cassavetes:
Pragmatism, Modernism and the Movies) the director put the experience
this way. "It didn't matter to me whether or not Shadows would
be any good; it just became a way of life where you got close to
people and where you could hear ideas that weren't full of shit.
We had no intention of offering it for commercial distribution.
It was an experiment all the way, and our main objective was just
to learn. Not one actor was paid for his services, nor were the
technicians given anything. What kept us going was enthusiasm."
In the early 1960s, Cassavetes
moved out to Hollywood, eventually playing a variety of roles in
a gambit to continue funding his own workwhich the big studios
wouldn't touch. And so he concluded that "this whole culture-there
is only one art in America, and that's money. Raising money and
business. That's what everyone is interested in: screwing somebody
and making profit
" Appropriately enough then, he co-stared
with Ronald Reagan in The Killers, a mondo noir adaptation
of the Ernest Hemingway short story in which the future President
plays a gun-toting gangster who slaps around Angie Dickinson; Cassavetes
also played the husband in Rosemary's Baby. Through the mid-1960s
he scraped together money and began to collect around him a clutch
of actorssome accomplished, others quite capable amateursnot
least his accomplished wife Gena Rowlands. In the late 1960s he
commenced filming what would become his masterpiecealthough
a number of strong films would followentitled Faces.
As with Shadows,
Faces was put together as a voluntary labor of love taking years
to complete (originally, the film was to run for eight hours). During
these lean years of stewing over Hollywood's money culture, Cassavetes'
"It's the business
bastards who make artists feel phony. It's been like that since
we've been children and we want them to approve of us even though
we know they're hypocrites and liars and have no principles or love
I laugh at them because I know they're doing what they don't want
to do. The bastards of the Establishment who are rich and who are
running things really hate themselves. Of course, some of those
bastards do love themselves. They're they really dangerous ones.
That's why I hate leaders. We should all lead ourselves. The leaders
tell us these are the facts and the facts are horseshit. They're
not facts. Whose facts? Whose truths? You have to use your own truth."
And yet, in a wealthy
society like the United States, Cassavetes would later take artists
to task for their, in his mind, too frequent acquiescence to the
eventual lures of commercial culture.
"We are the whoresnot
them. They never sell out. I've been vengeful, but it's a waste
of time. I don't have a quarrel with studio executives. They're
just there to make money
My quarrel is with the artists. What
have we done in an effort to find out who we are? Art was not intended
to be bought and sold. How much is your arm worth? A little kid
doing a paintinghow much is that worth?"
On the most basic level,
Faces chronicles the disintegration of a marriage and the
resultant alienation which spurs adultery. The plot contends with
the relationships surrounding Richard (John Marley) and Maria Forst
(Lynn Carlin). He is an aging film executive heavily involved in
the "money end" of the business; she is a younger bored
housewife despairing of her husband's indifference. Their world
is described by Carney as one in which "contemporary upper-middle-class
America becomes a harrowing world of jungle beasts on the prowl,
preying on each other sexually and emotionally, thrashing about
in their agony as they inflict pain or have it inflicted on them."
Richard, along with his
fellow executive Freddie Draper, open the film holding court at
the screening of a new film for other "money people."
Here, questions like "what [kind of film] are you selling us
this time" elicit the answer "money," and the description
"it's honest, but it's a good piece in itself" operates
as a sarcastic and self-referential would-be Hollywood assessment
of the coming feature. After the business meeting Richard and Freddie
get tanked at the today still extant Loser's Club and pick up a
call girl named Jeannie Rapp (Gena Rowlands).
The scene that unfolds
when they return to her apartment is a classic in depicting the
ridiculous lengths to which men will go in competing over women.
They make utter fools of themselves in this quest, doing long-bygone
"routines from college" and serenading her with "I
dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair." Eventually, Freddie
makes a scene once it is evident that Jeannie prefers Richard, interposing,
"So Jeannie, whadda ya charge?" Rebuffed by both Richard
and Jeannie, he explodes "you think she's a clean towel that's
never been used!?" The scene ends with Draper outraged that
his "reputation is at stake here" only to leave humiliated.
Shorlty thereafter, Richard and Jeannie establish some undetermined
rapport, parting with a kiss.
In summing up the scene,
Cassavetes observes: "Dashing around, the business lunch, a
little hanky-panky with a prostitute, getting drunk with some buddies-adventurous,
daring, eh? Empty, meaningless little actions that fill up a day.
Their brutish existence holds no dreams and for a man who goes out
into it every day there is no signal of reassurance. And so our
characters are forced into playing power games, using what they
knowbusiness techniquesto verify their social acceptability.
They make love with an eye toward respect and applause, which will
signify to them that life is more than just the office, that their
moral ills and boredom can be cured if women find them attractive.
It is this need to prove-this bustling bravura egothat fatally
wounds the people of the picture. It is this confusing dilemma in
which men find themselves trying to relate to a difficult life and
their responsibilities in it that Faces attempts to explore."
The above quote indicates
an evolution in his thinking about Faces. Whereas his initial
motivation was expression of his contempt for the individuals in
the Hollywood structure with whom he clashed, Cassavetes later comes
to see them as acting as mere conduits, and victims, of larger social
In the next scene, Richard
returns home to his wife who has also had a few "drinkies"this
being the perpetual state of almost all of the characters, just
drunk enough to avoid uncomfortable realities. His initial oblique
attempts to be affectionate soon enough turn sour when he discovers
that Maria hasn't restocked the cigarettes and wants to be taken
to the movies. While one sees flashes of warmth between the characters
in this scene, neither of them are able to break through the ruts
of perception which have emerged over the years: Richard as the
sexually unappealing breadwinner and Maria as the caterer to whims
and role as "sex machine." An argument ensues over rumors
of Freddie's infidelity in which Richard ridicules the "woman's
point of view" to which Maria responds with a mocking "oh,
poor baby, do we emasculate you?" Subsequently, with the couple
in bed, Richard commences telling his tiresome jokesanother
male constant throughout, joking to "dodge" or "lighten"
heavy situationsat which Maria half-heartedly laughs. The
scene closes with a tight shot of her face with an ominous, forlorn
At some indeterminate
point in the future, Richard confronts his wife out of the blue
with the demand for a divorce to which Maria responds with hysterical
laughter. As she then looks at him in uncomprehending silence he
sneers "Why don't you laugh? It's funny." Here again what
Carney calls "the casual brutality between men and women"
is on full display.
The above exchange is
an excellent example of an interpersonal extremism which may strike
some viewers as nearly implausible. Then again, when one considers
the degree to which the viewer feels the part of voyeur throughout,
the dreadful reality of the inner human sanctum later dawns.
Richard, with his wife
within earshot, cruelly calls Jeannie to arrange a rendezvous at
her apartment where she is "entertaining," along with
her friend Stella, two other businessmen. Jim McCarthy (Val Avery)
and his too smoove underling Joe Jackson are quintessential small
fish, entitlement-feeling glad-handlers. After Richard's arrival,
unaware that Richard outranks them in terms of income and prestige,
the odious duo begin badgering him so that they might have the girls
to themselves. A ridiculous fight ensues in which McCarthy is bested,
leading him to try another tack at the behest of Jackson, who buddies
him up by calling him "you son of a gun." As Richard icily
establishes himself as their social better, the pair begins to obsequiously
joke around (trying to tell "the one about the little Jewish
agent" or "the fag motorcycle driver") with him in
a delicious / nauseating turn about. After they've been sent ignominiously
packing, one can see again Richard's halting attempts to soften
his persona. This scene between the awkward pair begins to degenerate
Jeannie: I like you.
I really do.
Richard: Well don't get serious.
Jeannie: I'm not.
Richard: Well don't.
Jeannie: I wasn't.
Richard: Definition of serious. Noun. Grave or solemn of disposition.
Jeannie: Well I wasn't getting serious. I'm your friend.
Richard: Well, you know how I feel about friendship.
Jeannie: No, how do you feel?
Richard: Definition of friendship. Noun. One who is attached to
one another because of their personal regard. A companion, a comrade,
a chum. And someone who doesn't get serious.
Jeannie: Friends never get serious?
Richard, who uses on Jeannie the same mixture of browbeating and
faux-joking which he has long applied to his wife, ultimately spends
Meanwhile, his wife Maria
goes "out with the girls" to a club where their dour middle-aged
demeanor is clearly out of place amidst the younger crowd. They
are approached by Chet, a party dude played by a frenetic Seymour
Cassel, (some may remember him as the villainous NASA bureaucrat
from the 1970s cult film Capricorn I, co-starring O.J. Simpson)
who attempts to enlist a frightened Maria in a suggestive dance.
His character is one of the most compelling in the film, not least
because he drew on his own personal experience of purposefully picking
up older married women at clubs.
Eventually the mismatched
quintet arrives back at the empty Forst residence where a parallel
pecking order to the scene with McCarthy and Richard begins to play
out. The imperious Louise (wife of Freddie Draper) needles the portly
Billie Mae (who also gets her licks in) while the wasted and more
homely Florence dances with Chet as if he was the keeper of the
fountain of youth itself.
Cassavetes was oddly
tempted to entitle the film The Dinosaurs, in a reference
what he saw as the soon to be outmoded modes of male-female relations
depicted in the film, as hinted at here in Carney's observation.
"While the film tantalizes us with a vision of life's interactional
possibilities, Richard, Freddie, McCarthy, Billie Mae and Louise
devote themselves to an ethic of domination and mastery
package their personalities into mechanical routines and pigeonhole
everyone with whom they come into contact
The only figures
who deserve being excepted from the preceding generalizations are
Chet, Jeannie and, to a lesser extent, Florence. Alone among Faces
characters, they have
abandon[ed] schemes for living, vulnerably
experimenting with who they are, and staying open to emotional possibility."
While Chet is certainly
a more sympathetic character than any of the businessmen, he too
cunningly creates a scene designed to disperse the crowd once it
becomes evident that his quarry, Maria, is interested. And yet,
he subsequently accedes to Florence's plaintive plea to be kissedalthough
this too ends up hastening her embarrassed departure.
The plot then shifts
to the morning after between Richard and Jeannie.
Jeannie: I dream of Jeannie,
Peter Piper, laughing, dancing, having a good time
begin to come back to you?
Richard: Oh, you're such a child.
Jeannie: I am not a child. You're a lousy dancer. You ought to take
Richard: I took dances.
Jeannie: You have a tin ear too; you can't even carry a tune. But
last night you danced and you sang and let it all go. And didn't
we have a good time? You liked making love to me didn't you?
Richard: Yes I did.
Jeannie: So see, now there, now that's good isn't it? And you enjoyed
my company too, didn't you?
Richard: I enjoyed your company.
Jeannie: And you said that you trusted me, didn't you?
Richard: Yes I did.
Jeannie: And you thought Peter Piper was pretty important last night,
didn't you? Didn't you?
Richard: [softer] Yes I did.
Jeannie: See, I'm always right! [playfully] I listened to your demented
dialogue too, didn't I?
Richard: Yes you did.
Jeannie: And I thought you were crazy didn't I? But I made love
to you and held you in my arms all night. And if you'd been out
on the street last night, they'd of had you committed, wouldn't
Richard: [circumspect] I suppose so.
Jeannie: You son of a gun. How come you hate me now?
Richard: Jeannie. Do me a favor. Don't be silly any more. Just be
Jeannie: But I am myself. Who else would I be?
Richard: I'm serious.
Jeannie: Definition of serious, blah blah blah.
The two above excerpted
scenes point to the intricacy and continuity in the dialogue which
is too involved to get into heresuffice it to say that there
are precious few throwaway lines in Faces, very nearly all
of them come together at some later point in the film. The final
scene between Jeannie and Richard ends, as is the touchstone of
the film, in ambiguitythey embrace and hold one another.
Carney put the nearly
inscrutable recurring theme this way. "We never see through
characters' eyes, and they almost never tell us what they intend
or mean...as we do in a Hollywood movie. We can never know exactly
why someone is saying or doing something. We are put in more or
less the same situation we are outside of the movie theatre: uncertainly
reading opaque, ambiguous surfaces."
The final scene involving
the tryst between Maria and Chet starts with him callously/playfully
singing a raunchy song just as they are about to go to bed. The
next morning Chet finds Maria passed out on the floor from an overdose
of sleeping pills. He manages to revive her again using a mixture
of violence and caringforcing her to vomit up the drugs, drink
coffee and then slapping her repeatedly in order to stop her from
passing out again, after which he attempts in his own clumsily clichéd
way of expressing his conscience.
"And I prayed man,
I prayed to God, don't let anything happen to her because I love
her so much and I'll do anything you say. And hey, I don't even
believe in him."
As with Jeannie and Richard,
the scene ends with the two of them holding one another, both lost
souls who feel momentarily secure in the arms of complete strangers.
At the end, Richard returns home triumphant only to find and chase
Chet away, thereby bringing down on himself the full weight of what
he has wrought. As the film closes husband and wife sit slouched,
hung over, and hacking over their cigarettes on the stairwell.
The Politics of Faces
Faces is first
and foremost a film that is felt and so it is difficult to adequately
depict it in a cerebral fashion on the page, nonetheless, one can
hazard a few impressions. For one, it could be argued that for Cassavetes
politics begins not through the prism of some over-arching ideology,
but rather with its most basic building blocks, human beings and
how they interact with one another. What some might in a political
sense call solidarity, Cassavetes sees as an emotional awakening
to be striven for, as indicated in the following two quotes, the
first by Carney, the following by Cassavetes.
cinematic selfhood generally involves the maintenance of a stable
point of view, Cassavetes defines selfhood as the capacity to allow
oneself to be inhabited by other views. Cassavetes was not only
opposed to the ruthless individualism of American society, but [held
that] social interconnectedness is our true state. Experience is
not something we have or feel alone, something that takes place
almost entirely in our heads or hearts. Life is essentially and
unavoidably relational. It is something we work through with others."
"The problem has
become, 'What's the problem?' In this country, people die at twenty-one.
They die emotionally at twenty-one. Maybe even younger, now
films are expressive of a culture that has had the possibility of
attaining material fulfillment while at the same time finding itself
unable to accomplish the simple business of conducting human lives.
We have been sold a bill of goods as a substitute for life. What
is needed is a reassurance in human emotions; a reevaluation of
our emotional capacities."
And so it is the role
of the engaged film maker to explore these questions at their most
basic, as contrasted with the usual fare.
"I like to feel
pain through what really causes pain. I don't want to frighten people
by showing them tragedy. I've never seen an exploding helicopter,
I've never seen anybody go and blow somebody's head off. So why
should I make films about them? But I have seen people destroy themselves
in the smallest possible way. I've seen people withdraw. I've seen
people hide behind political ideas, behind dope, behind the sexual
revolution, behind fascism, behind hypocrisy, and I've myself done
all these things. In our films what we are saying is so gentle.
It's gentleness. We have problems, terrible problems, but our problems
are human problems."
The larger contemporary
American sense of remoteness from political life, if not outright
escapism from it, is indeed touched on in the film. First we have
Freddie laughably bellowing "kill the pigs" during the
first competition for Jeannie's attention. And then there is Chet's
unenthused remark, in an attempt to deflect away from conversation
and back to playing his records and dancing, that "well, you
can sit around and have a drag and think about what's wrong and
" When patrician Louise says "oh I know what
you mean," the socially outclassed Chet, in one of the films
most stunning visuals, launches into a roaring laugh with a grotesque
expression on his face.
And then there is Richard's
declaration to Jeannie that he doesn't "give a damn about racial,
religious, moral, economical, political problems
What is all
this holier than thou crap that they hand us? You know what I think?
I think we were all created evil. And then some wise guy, a left
winger or a union organizer, comes along and says we were all created
good, that we were all created in his image. Right?" When Jeannie
disputes this, he responds with "Jeannie, you're such a lovely
girl, but you talk too much."
Finally, upon discovering
his wife's infidelity, as he's prowling though the house nearly
out of his head, Richard declares "Get laid once and everything
is solved. Get all the soldiers in Vietnam laid and the whole Middle
East problem is solved."
In returning to what
Cassavetes calls the striving for interpersonal "gentleness,"
he had criticism of the New Left on these grounds in the stance
of some "revolutionaries" towards "mainstream"
"I agree with a
lot of what the kids are saying, but it really disgusts me that
most white militants hate middle-class peopleand are middle
class themselves. That really makes me ill, because those kids ought
to understand why their parents are middle-class, know about their
parents' fears; but instead of caring, they'd rather hate. Ideals
must be achieved by caring."
Some feminists of the
day attacked Cassavetes for what they saw as his depiction of the
female characters as hapless victims. While one can certainly see
how this view might gain currency, a great thought-provoking strength
of Faces lies in the very messy and somewhat ambiguous way
in which the two adulterous relationships, to say nothing of the
marriage, are left. There is precious little nobility amidst the
debris, least of all among the men. It's hardly any surprise then
that after watching the film most viewers come away with a fatalistic
sense of Cassavetes' view of human nature, a conclusion he vigorously
"Life is a series
of events to avert being exposed as a fool. But in the effort to
do this we make even bigger fools of ourselves. Most of us like
to think we know how to handle life, but, actually, we are ignorant
emotionally. We have to learn not to be so hard on ourselves. I'm
obsessed with the idea that people are human and have fallacies,
and that those embarrassing fallacies are better out in the open.
That way we don't waste time covering up. I see life as a struggle,
and the real romance is in not walking away from it
is to struggle to explore avenues of understanding to the greatest
extent possible. That is a great mystery of life."
To see more incisive,
intelligent opionions by Stephen Bender, go to: http://www.americanidealism.com/