To read about Ray Carney's discovery of a long version of Faces, click here. To read about the press response to the Faces discovery, click here. To read about Gena Rowlands's response to Prof. Carney's Faces discovery, click here.

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Image from FacesThe first film in Cassavetes "marriage trilogy" documents the disintegration of the marriage of two upper middle class suburbanites. Considered by many to be one of Cassavetes finest works. 1968 (129 m. B+W) Stars John Marley and Gena Rowlands.  

Stephen 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 of that!!!!

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... - pepe

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 to love.
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 sweet.
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

What's My Take on Cassavetes? Genius.

Posted 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 work—which 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 actors—some accomplished, others quite capable amateurs—not least his accomplished wife Gena Rowlands. In the late 1960s he commenced filming what would become his masterpiece—although a number of strong films would follow—entitled 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' rage mounted.

"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 whores—not 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 painting—how much is that worth?"

The Plot

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 know—business techniques—to 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 ego—that 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 forces.

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 jokes—another male constant throughout, joking to "dodge" or "lighten" heavy situations—at which Maria half-heartedly laughs. The scene closes with a tight shot of her face with an ominous, forlorn expression.

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 soon enough.

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: Never.

Richard, who uses on Jeannie the same mixture of browbeating and faux-joking which he has long applied to his wife, ultimately spends the night.

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… [they] 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 kissed—although 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… Does it 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 lessons.
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 they? Right?
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 yourself.
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 here—suffice 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 ambiguity—they 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 caring—forcing 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.

"Whereas conventional 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…The 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 all…" 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" America.

"I agree with a lot of what the kids are saying, but it really disgusts me that most white militants hate middle-class people—and 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 disputed.

"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… The point 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/


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