A peak for both Jill Clayburgh and Paul Mazursky
Peter Shelley | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 06/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jill Clayburgh was nominated for an Oscar as the lead in this 1978 film. She didn't win but it pushed her into the "A" class for a few good years. It's interesting to witness Clayburgh's career rise and fall as symptomatic of the public's short love affair with actresses. She still can be seen in supporting roles and she is as good as she ever was - beautiful, funny, warm and tender - but she is probably unable to recapture those "A" bankable heydays. As Erica, a woman who's husband leaves her for a younger woman, Pauline Kael describes her having an "addled radiance with a floating not-quite-sure not-quite-here quality". Clayburgh is memorable wearing a high-collared tan Albert Wolsky coat with a snarl on her face that is both funny and real when she is told the news of the infidelity. Written and directed by Paul Mazursky and burdened with an annoying Rocky-esque score by Bill Conti, the film has a few slow improvisational spots but is generally likeable. Ironically, as it raised Clayburgh's profile, it also was the peak for Mazursky, after films like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Blume in Love and Next Stop, Greenwich Village in the early 70's. The only later film to match them is Enemies, A Love Story made in 1989. The film was also a mainstream breakthrough for Alan Bates who here wears a beard and is hunkily gorgeous as Erica's love interest. His rapport with Clayburgh seems genuine and the film improves once he appears half way through. At the time it was released, Mazursky's feminist end was criticised for having Erica turn down Bates' request to go away with her since Bates is presented as irresistible. Kael thought the only way to balance Erica's "idiotic" decision would be to reveal Bates' character as a fraud. You decide."
Even though it may seem dated, it IS what makes a classic
Amazon.com-lover | California | 08/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The more I watch this well loved, intimate, unique film, the more I love and appreciate it. People, you are missing out on a unique piece of American culture if you neglect this gem.Not only is the acting so astounding , the actors were so naturalistic which was so indicative of the 70's ( and to me , so sorely missed. Not to sound dowdy but so much of today;s acting is merely posing and pouting and trying to look the all-important-sexy-at-all-costs) The story is simple and human, a broken marriage , a woman who finds her core...but told so beautifully ,and in the background is that city, that city, that city which to me is also another actress in the film, our New York...
Also another major plus in the DVD is the commentary by Paul Mazursky and Jill Clayburgh. They have such insight and warmth and interesting commentary, not just about the making of the film but about art and acting and life . To me it was worth it to hear these wonderful artists express their ideas and memories. I have to admit, I love them both and so much of my life was shaped by this movie.
It is a truly underrated and underappreciated piece of art. It is ART ! The score is divine too. If you think , after the 1st viewing, that maybe you dont like it, it is too 70s or corny,,, give it another try. It is truly a whole little world that you are glimpsing, Mr Mazursky created a magical place, and I never never tire of going there."
Amazing on DVD
Forest Moon | Ashland, OR, USA | 01/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I couldn't wait for this film to be digitized, and the print is just beautiful. You can see Clayburgh's freckles! Some of those classic shots of her face are even more amazing when you can see her clearly. And the views of the New York skyline are even lovelier when the lights don't look like one big blur. Both the sound and the color have been cleaned up and are excellent. My only wish for the 30th anniversary edition next year (marketing opportunity alert) would be additional supplementary material. Something with Bates before his death would be thrilling. However, this package does include a long commentary with both Jill and Mazursky--worth listening to if you're a fan of the movie, though Mazursky gets a bit repetitious and obvious at times. If you're a long-time New Yorker, the info about where various scenes were shot is quite interesting."
Time Heals (Almost) Everything
Joel Greenberg | Toronto, Canada | 01/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember how the movie hit me when it was first released. I was not yet 30, fairly recently married myself, and pretty relentless about seeing every new non-traditional American movie I could. Mazursky was a personal favourite, especially with Bob and Carol, Next Stop and Blume in Love. He was telling stories that no one else dared to tell -- no cross-country mythic hippes, no foul tongue-lashing Nicholson vehicle, not even Fonda (Jane) showing just how sexy glum can be.
Jill CLayburgh was perfectly suited to the era -- attractive without being wondrous, teeth imperfect and shown up close without apology, dancing in her panties (a Clayburgh signature that would later become tedious) -- most of all for her genuine humanity, self-deprecating manner and heartbreaking vulnerability. She was both movie star clean and normal, at the same time.
Looking at the film now, it's fascinating to try distinguishing whether its original power has any currency. I showed the film to a college class of first-year students, all women by coincidence, and they were split -- many thought it coy and many others were startled at the greater power of this film over Sex and the City -- what emerged from that seminar, and what I think sets this movie apart from being "of its time and nothing more", is that the women of the film are viewed as mature (in a good way), searching human beings, while the quartet of gals in Sex in the City are seen as desperately clinging to their notions of youth to the exclusion of their own deeper needs and desires. The class was really taken aback when they realized that the women in the Mazursky film were the same age as Samantha, Carrie and Co. That, alone, makes "An Unmarried Woman" worth adding to important film lists."