An "intensely provocative [and] searing dissection of human behavior" (New York Daily News),Interiors marked a cinematic watershed for Woody Allen. In his first serious drama, Allen's interest in the human condition was no... more »t purely farcical and not limited to quick-wit and slapstick gags. Exploring the dynamics of a family in crisis, Interiors is "destined to become a landmark of American filmmaking" (The Hollywood Reporter). Nominated* for 5 Academy AwardsÂ(r). When Eve (Geraldine Page), an interior designer, is deserted by her husband of many years, Arthur (E.G. Marshall), the emotionally glacial relationships of their three grown daughters arelaid bare. Twisted by jealousy, insecurity and resentment, Renata (Diane Keaton), a successful writer; Flyn (Kristin Griffith), a woman crippled by indecision; and Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) a budding actress; struggle to communicate for the sake of their shattered mother. But when their father unexpectedly falls for another woman (Maureen Stapleton), his decision to remarry sets in motion a terrible twist of fate with tragically unexpected consequences. Academy AwardÂ(r)-winning** cast. *1978: Actress (Page), Supporting Actress (Stapleton), Director, Original Screenplay, Art Direction **Page: Actress, The Trip to Bountiful (1985); Keaton: Actress, Annie Hall (1977); Stapleton: Supporting Actress, Reds (1981)« less
Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
Highly dramatic, almost to the point of depressing. This plays like a stronger and more genuine "Hannah", with more dysfunction. Probably the only time Allen was able to restrain his love of comedic one-liners.
A Film That Deserves A Place In Every Art Collection
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Revisiting INTERIORS written and directed by Woody Allen in 1978 it becomes apparent that this is one of the most important American films made. In this time of video art and digital manipulation of images, both in real time and in fixed entities, INTERIORS exemplifies the finest in what film can achieve. Without manipulation of scenery, without (gratefully) a senses-asaulting musical score, without GIMMICKRY - here is a film of brilliant writing, stunningly and beautifully subtle sets and costumes, and acting of the first degree. The angst so present in our society's family relationships is gently observed and explored and the results are a paean of understated simplicity and pain. It is difficult to single out any of the outstanding cast as 'best' and that is yet another proof of ensemble acting and directing at a zenith. Yes, it is unimaginable to leave behind the characters created by Geraldine Page, H.G. Marshall, Diane Keaton, and Maureen Stapleton, but again this is an indicator of how well and cohesive the experience provided by this movie is.I have never been a Woody Allen fan: I find his comedies overwrought, self-absorbed, and frustratingly tedious. Seeing INTERIORS on a DVD, in the quiet of home, has altered my respect for this man. A dazzingly brilliant, thoughtful, elegy of a film."
He knows women so well; too bad they hate him.
Brian Parks | Carmen, San Diego | 10/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Woody Allen probably knew that Interiors would be panned by his most loyal fans, his most ardent critics (Pauline Kael), and even the always honorable motion picture industry. How he managed to ignore what might have been insurmountable difficulties for another is a feat of no small measure; how he managed to craft this dramatic gem is "an impossibility commensurate with two like snowflakes" (from Woody's Getting Even). Mary Beth Hurt shines as Joey, a passionate but ambivalent actress-photographer-copywriter, who cannot transcend her pressing responsibility as daughter to a delusional and depressed woman, Eve (Geraldine Page). She has two sisters (a theme to be further explored in Allen's later Hannah and her Sisters), one of whom is fairly irrelevant and indifferent to her life (the only underdeveloped character in the film), the TV actress Flynn. The other sister Renata (Diane Keaton) is a highly successful poet who has distanced herself from Joey while she deals with complex emotional issues stemming from an abusive, alcoholic husband (Richard Jordan) and her own artistic "paralysis." Woody weaves the stories together with dignity and grace, and Gordon Willis' superlative cinematography pays homage to Bergman's Sven Nyqvist (the beachwalking scene could be Persona in color) while infusing his own creative vision into each shot. Woody's comic flair is nonpareil, and his unique cinematic concept is timeless and powerful. With Interiors, Woody indelibly makes his mark as one of the finest dramatists of the 20th century as well."
Important Landmark in Allen's Body of Work.
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 04/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Interiors', written and directed by Woody Allen, is by far his most serious work and his biggest departure from his earlier comedies, yet, as the film he did between the major award-winning `Annie Hall' and the comic, but much more serious `Manhattan', it was probably one of the more important milestones marking the changes in his writing. It certainly gave rise to the entire popular and critical hubbub about preferring his earlier, `funny' movies; an attitude Allen parodies himself in `Stardust Memories'.
In spite of the fact that I can detect not one hint of a joke in `Interiors', this does not mean Allen has abandoned his core subjects of sex, death, creative freeze-up, parents, and relationships between partners. Diane Keaton, for example, plays a character almost identical to her role in `Manhattan', a New York literary figure. In `Manhattan', she is a successful book editor. In `Interiors', she is a successful poet married to a less successful novelist and teacher, very similar to the character played by Michael Murphy in `Manhattan', to whom she plays mistress. One of the many little subplots which spills over into sexual misdirection is Keaton's husband, played by Richard Jordan, virtually raping Keaton's actress sister, played by Kristin Griffith.
The story is incredibly spare. Aside from two suicides and the rape, practically nothing happens other than dialogue. Unlike so many of Allen's other movies, even the location is anonymous. While a keen eye will spot some unobvious New York City scenes and the suburban locations are not hard to assume to be Long Island, `New York' manages to stay out of this movie as a character. The very spare set decoration is an essential part of this story, as part of the sense of the title, `Interiors', comes from the occupation of the central character played by Geraldine Page, whose role is the mother of three daughters (Keaton, Hurt, Griffith) and the wife of a lawyer played by E.G. Marshall. Marshall's character creates the basic situation driving the movie when he announces he has decided he needs to live alone, apart from his wife.
Of course, the movie would be incredibly shallow if the whole story was about living in bare white Manhattan co-ops and equally spare Long Island beach houses. The relations between the eight star roles are certainly enough to spin all sorts of symbolism meaning this, that, but I will try to keep speculation to a minimum.
While the parents separation and Page's suicides are the external forces driving the story, the `interiors' story seems to be the fact that with the possible exception of Maureen Stapleton, Marshall's post-separation girlfriend, not one of the characters interact with any of their family members with any empathy or feeling until the suicides precipitate an external need for action. Stapleton's difference from the other characters stands out in that she is the only lead character who is not part of this family of highly disconnected people.
I am hard pressed to think of any playwright or filmmaker with whom to compare this work. It is totally free of the kind of energy common to most American filmmakers, who, except for my other hero director, Stanley Kubrick, seem to be uncomfortable if more than ten seconds goes by without strong words or action showing up on the screen. It is also totally free of the kind of obvious imagery we see from Bergman or Fellini. We may not know to what they are alluding, but we are darn sure they have hidden a message somewhere in those wild strawberries or that giant fish. The closest I can come may be some of the plays of Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams. I am less familiar with Ibsen, but I suspect there may be some influence from that quarter as well.
If for no other reason, this movie is a delight to see the workings of such a great ensemble cast perform together. This is by far the youngest appearance I recall seeing of Sam Waterston and we probably see far too little of Marshall, Stapleton, Page, and Keaton in really serious work.
Other reviewers have amply commented on the great skill and beauty of the cinematography. I will interject a small concern that some of the scenes were a bit too dark, not that anything but the dialogue was very important in most scenes.
This is a very hard movie to recommend. While Allen has done other movies with very serious themes such as `The Purple Rose of Cairo', `Crimes and Misdemeanors', `September' and `Husbands and Wives', this movie is about as far from his center of gravity based on humor as you can possibly imagine. Therefore, if you are simply amused by his movies, you may want to take a pass on `Interiors'. On the other hand, if you like the way Allen treats his core subjects, you should really see this movie at least once. For died in the wool Allen fans, you probably need to watch it about once every two years to see what new insights it gives on Allen's art. "
Tony Pallone | Albany, NY (USA) | 11/24/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Woody Allen's wonderful sense of humor is not his greatest asset: it's his storycrafting genius, and nowhere is this more obvious than in this brilliant piece of serious drama, which is not merely an homage to Allen's filmmaker idol Ingmar Bergman, but an emotionally complex, riveting story in its own right. Interiors is an examination of a family coming apart at the seams, not as a result of some outside, malevolent force, but merely due to the intricacies of human nature.Note that in his more serious work, Allen typically paints one character as the story's conscience and emotional center, and he usually plays this role himself; there are disappointing results when anyone else tries to do it. Not so for Marybeth Hurt in her multi-faceted portrayal of Joey, the family's frustrated emotional caretaker, unable to find her own identity. Maureen Stapleton also provides both contrast and comic relief in her role as Pearl, a character unfettered by complexity--and intellect!One of the great, exhilirating pleasures in watching films is coming across a masterpiece like this one."
A Dysfunctional Family Wrapped in Frigid Austerity Makes for
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 10/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's pretty obvious that Woody Allen was so resistant in being confined as a comedy filmmaker that in the throes of his success with the wondrous "Annie Hall", he felt a need to make an über-serious drama in the Ingmar Bergman mode. This 1978 Chekhovian family drama is the result, and it is alternately affecting and exasperating. The key problem is that Allen presents such a hermetically sealed world of intellectuals and artistic souls that the interactions among the characters feel pointed and self-conscious. He has obviously since learned that his best films ("Manhattan", "Hannah and Her Sisters") are served most by his particular balance between comedy and drama.
The story concerns an upscale New York family reacting to the news that patriarch Arthur wants to leave his psychologically unstable wife Eve just released from a sanitarium. They have three daughters, all of whom are grappling with their own problems. Eldest sister Renata is a successful poet stuck in a volatile marriage to Frederick, a fellow writer whose lack of commercial success has merely heightened his jealousy and paranoia. Middle daughter Joey is Arthur's favorite, but she is unable to figure out what to do with her life, and her constant flailing frustrates everyone around her in spite of the patience of her boyfriend Michael. Youngest daughter Flyn is the beautiful, emotionally isolated one who moved to Hollywood to become a semi-successful actress.
They all respond to their mother Eve's neediness in different ways, and the inevitable turning point comes when Arthur finalizes the divorce and remarries, this time to a passionate, fun-loving widow named Pearl. Even though Gordon Willis' beige-dominated cinematography and the frigid, almost-too-perfect art direction by Mel Bourne and Daniel Robert lend the extreme austerity for which Allen seems to be striving, the acting is what makes this film dramatically effective. Mary Beth Hurt gives a brave performance as Joey, capturing all the inadequacy and wounded rejection her character feels. Maureen Stapleton is a breath of fresh air as Pearl, lending an amusing earthiness and colorful indifference when she arrives late in the story.
With her severe look, Geraldine Page effectively lends unrelenting, humorless intensity to her heavily mannered portrayal of Eve and turns her character into a hopelessly desperate victim as the story moves toward its conclusion. As Renata, Diane Keaton removes all traces of the lovable Annie Hall but unfortunately comes across as the most contrived, especially when her character cannot help but be patronizing to Frederick and Joey. Richard Jordan plays Frederick in broad strokes that make it difficult to empathize with his plight. Making lesser impressions are Sam Waterson as Michael, Kristin Griffith as Flyn and a surprisingly understated E.G. Marshall as Arthur. Just the original trailer is included as an extra on the 2000 DVD."