DVD Review: ‘Interiors’

(Sorry the trailer is super boring.)

This blog is the online record of my favorite hobby: movies. I love film. I love watching them, reading about them, and analyzing them. I write about what I watch. And the other day I watched Woody Allen’s 1978 film Interiors. I’ll tell you right now that while I personally enjoyed it, I won’t give it the “Netflix This” status I gave to Bella.

That said, I found Interiors to be a very compelling movie. It was Allen’s follow-up to Annie Hall, the Oscar-winning comedy that made his name synonymous with comedy. But Interiors was a complete 180 from Annie Hall–it’s a slow, brooding drama that has zero laughs.

\What’s it about? The film tells the story of three sisters–Renata (Diane Keaton), Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) and Flyn (Kristin Griffith)–who must deal with the disintegration of their parents’ (E.G. Marshall and Geraldine Page) marriage. Renata is an accomplished poet, married to Frederick (Richard Jordan), an author in his own right (albeit less successful). Joey lives with Mike (Sam Waterston, that guy from Law & Order) and is constantly dissatisfied with her life, going from one job to the next. Flyn’s an actress and is not around; it’s Renata–and particulary Joey–who deal with the their parents’ mess.

And what a mess it is. Eve, the mom, has been in an asylum for a while, and requires so much attention she sucks the life out of her daughters. She hangs on to the (very) slim chance that she and Arthur (the dad) will reconcile. (In fact, that’s the only thing keeping her going.) Arthur initially announced their separation as only temporary, but it’s clear he has no intention of getting back together with Eve. In fact, Arthur has fallen in love with Pearl (Maureen Stapleton), a feisty woman who’s the complete opposite of Eve (read: happy), and they plan to marry as soon as possible. This, of course, sends Eve into a tailspin.

And there you have it: unhappy, selfish New Yorkers unable to commit or think of others. The film is bleak, and doesn’t really end happily, but has an outcome that is probably best for everybody.

What’s good about it: Outstanding performances from everybody in the cast. The dialogue is very deliberate–there’s no improv here. It’s almost like you’re watching a play.

What’s bad about it: It’s almost like you’re watching a play. There’s no music (save one scene), so the film feels much longer that its 90-minute run time. And while it is rated PG, it’s a 70’s PG, which is not the same as PG today. There is a disturbing rape scene between Renata’s husband Frederick and Flyn, which caught me off guard (although early on I knew something was going to happen between the two).

Perfect for: Woody Allen fans, those who love angst-ridden dramas.

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2 Responses to “DVD Review: ‘Interiors’”

  1. Karen Says:

    This movie was so unsettling, as Woody Allen’s often are, in one way or another. EAch character has horrible self inflicted flaws. EAch of the 3 sisters is so self centered, that they simply have no room in their hearts or minds for the troubles of others. Mom is a distraction from keeping thier minds on their own self percieved problems…Renata, partially supported by her father, and her supposedly unsuccessful husband, whom she rails at, instead of offering support, Joey in her self absorbed search for “fulfillment-” which she has yet to even figure out the meaning of, and Flyn, who is just not around enough to see what the problems in her family are.
    The father is so selfish, to the degree that he chooses a family meal, to announce his intent on a separation with his wife, as if it is just another business decision, one figured out with all angles looked at, coolly and with no regard to anyone’s feelings…even his own. The mother is so self absorbed, so immature, that she acts like a tween who’s just been dumped by her first boyfriend-she expects everyone else, to act as go betweens between her and him, to help them get back together. One expects her to start passing notes in study hall, asking, “did you c him, did he say anything about me?” That she’s been committed before, prehaps attempted suicide before, makes one wonder, has no one ever tried to work with this apparently successful interior decorator, on her self esteem and feelings of self worth outside her marriage?
    The two sons in law, are just as lamentable. Frederick would rather wallow in booze, and fantasies of his sexy sister in law, Flyn, to the point of trying to rape her. He goes between being in love with a wife who is so cold, she won’t even accept a rather chaste kiss while looking for a present for her mother, to accusing her of not supporting him in his quest to be the ultimate, self pitying failure.
    Mike, is, in his way, as deplorable. He kowtows to Joey’s every mood swing, he can’t make a definative statement, over whether he truly wants her to continue the pregnancy, or end it. One gets the sense, that he does want a child with this childish woman, but wants more, to find some way, to please her-or, say or do something, to get her to stop her incessant whining. If agreeing that an abortion is best for their marriage, he’ll assent.
    The acting is great, but the characters are such that you really don’t care what happens to any of them. Only Pearl seems to be a real person, aware of her own self worth, and one wonders, why she voluntarily involves herself with such a family. She is the one, at the end, who holds all of them together, and you know, in the future, that will be her role-holding this dysfunctional family together, and keeping it from imploding. If Pearl holds true to what little we see of her, inside a year, she’ll be filing for divorce, just to be rid of these whining, clingy, selfish jerks who pride themselves on being so much more intellectual than her.
    In a way, this movie is a darker companion piece to September…both movies are about selfish, indecisive people, who often can’t see-or don’t care- that their actions often injure others.

  2. yikbo Says:

    Wow. I completely agree. I also think that Interiors could be the dramatic counterpoint to Hannah and Her Sisters.

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