Interiors [1978]

Although indisputably a film by Woody Allen, Interiors is about as far from "a Woody Allen film" as you can get--and maybe more people could have seen what a fine film it is if they hadn't been expecting what Allen himself called "one of his earlier, funnier movies." An entirely serious, rather too self-consciously Bergmanesque drama about a divorcing elderly couple and their grown daughters, it is slow, meditative, and constructed with a brilliant, painterly eye. There is no music--a simple effect that Allen uses with extraordinary power. In fact, half the film is filled with silent faces staring out of windows, yet the mood is so engaging, hypnotic even, that you never feel the director is poking you in the ribs and saying, "somber atmosphere." Diane Keaton, released for once from the goofy ditz stereotype, shines as the "successful" daughter. Some of the dialogue is stilted, and it's hard to tell whether this is a deliberate effect or simply the way repressed upscale New Yorkers talk after too many years having their self-absorption sharpened on the therapist's couch. Fanatical, almost childish self-regard is the chief subject of Allen's comedy--it's remarkable that in this film he was able to remove the comedy but leave room for us to pity and care about these rather irritating people. --Richard Farr

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