Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 24, 1978 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 6-Tuesday, October 24, 1978-The Michigan Daily

Comedy tomorrow,

tragedy tonight


The critics can't seem to say enough
against Interiors. And where the gripes
with the film are numerous, all of them
seem to focus on the idea that Woody
Allen's first non-comedy is a pose, an
affectation. Certainly, if one goes an-
ticipating high-falutin' artiness, super-
ficially, at least, it is there in abundan-
ce: there are shots reminiscent of
Ingmar Bergman's Cries and
Whispers, so Woody Allen is accused of
trying to be Bergman;' next to his
comedies Interiors is uncom-
promisingly bleak, so Woody is said to
be trying to impress everyone with his
dour pessimism; finally, the film is
about a well-to-do non-Jewish family,
so there are numerous snide in-

is due Oct. 25 at the

timations that Interiors is Allen's proof
that he can write convincingly about
The film abounds in staples of the art-
film (e.g., "beautiful" photography),
and is thereby exceedingly easy to
write off as a compilation of arty
cliches. And because most of its
characters don't lead especially joyous
lives, Interiors is lambasted for being
depressing. Woody Allen's neuroses
and penchant for Big Philosophical
Questions is no secret, but - claim the
detractors - couldn't he have dealt
with those issues as in Annie Hall or
Love and Death, and eliminate all the
grim laments?
IF YOU think about it, this is com-
pletely absurd. Nothing like it goes on
in the other arts. The latest Saul Bellow
novel isn't immediately labeled preten-
tious because the subject matter hap-
pens to be gloomy, so why should
Woody Allen be expected to conform to
his comedic sensibility? Allen's real
courage in making Interiors was not
that he dared to make something new
and different, but that he made a com-
pletely "serious" film, anticipating full
well that it would be showered with
cries of "trendy!" He even has one
character complain that it has become
fashionable to be pessimistic.
If one goes to Interiors free from
preconceptions about Allen's supposed
place in American movies, and forgets
about the stale tradition of movies-you-
go-to-to-get-something-out-of, one will
discover an absorbing and extremely
moving film. Allen's greatest triumph,
as it was with Annie Hall, is that regar-
dless of the obsessions which plague his
mind, he ends up seeing with his heart.
Interiors is an exercise in dramatic
economy, comprised of small,
Chekhovian vignettes about a family
(and their wives and husbands) so
shrouded in the plastic defenses of
modern living that they remain sealed
off from any form of intimacy. The
characters gaze at the world longingly
through impenetrable panes of glass,
and shield their emotions behind an

iron-clad screen of high-flown
EARLY IN the film, the father (E.G.
Marshall) informs his fragile, neurotic
wife (Geraldine Page) that he wants a
"trial separation." He makes the an-
nouncement across a lunch table,
before two of his daughters, with a tone
that remains as placid and unaffected
as if he were announcing a change in of-
fice policy. As his wife goes to pieces he
repeats - falsely - that the situation is
not "irrevocable," as if the word's very

expression of emotion; in their
delicately-fashioned interiors, there is
no room for the Watusi.
One daughter, Renata (Diane
Keaton), a successful and fashionable
poet, has buried herself away in Con-
necticut, struggling to produce poetry
from a psyche overcome by a manic
fear of death. Her husband's (Richard
Jordan) own unsuccessful career as a
novelist leaves him feeling too
inadequate to accord her much atten-
.tion. The second daughter, Joey


phone 763-1085 for info.
box office hours-10 AM-6 PM

soundstage presents
TUES., OCT. 24-8 pm
in the U CLUB
Student talent performing in on
informal atmosphere
Sponsored by Union Programming-UAC

Diane Keaton (Renata), Kristen Griffith (Flyn), and Marybeth Hurt (Joey) in


a scene from Woody Allen's "Interiors."
sound would serve as some sort of
soothing reassurance.
His wife is an interior decorator who
has spent her life hiding behind an
eggshell-thin facade of "beauty." Blan-
he Dubois may have deluded herself,
but at least her fantasies bore some
relation - however obscure - to the
world outside. With her perfectly-
arranged vases and chic color schemes,
Page is completely self-directed. In one
extraordinary moment, she rolls up her
car window to shut out the bleak lan-
dscape outside, wearing a horrifying
expression of disdain and fear. Her
tragedy, like that of Allen's other
characters, is that in cutting herself off,
she ends up suffocating herself.
ONLY ONE of the characters ever es-
capes his straitjacket: Marshall
remarries, and his new wife, Pearl,
(portrayed marvelously by Maureen
Stapleton) is an effervescent but hardly
genteel woman who speaks with a
gauche Brooklyn accent, has plebian
opinions about art, and knocks over
vases as she buffaloes her way through
middle-aged variations on the Watusi.
Marshall's daughters sneer at her
rambunctious lack of sophistication,
but Pearl has an attribute none of them
share: there is joy in her life. The hos-
tile reception the daughters give her is
poignant, because it is based on a
jealous revulsion toward any sincere

(Marybeth Hurt), is a terse and in-
telligent woman who prides herself on
being a realist, but the pressure from
society to be creative and "express
herself" artistically drives her into a
quagmire of indecisiveness. The third
daughter is Flyn (Kristen Griffith), a
third-rate television actress struggling
to break out of fourth-rate television
ALTHOUGH the characters are
richly drawn (excepting Joey's
political activist husband, played by the
amiable Sam Waterston), Allen's only
real interest lies with the first two
daughters and their parents. These four
labor under an intertwining mass of
conflicting familial loyalties and
jealousies. Page saves her affection for
Renata, because Renata has an.
aesthetic sense, a feeling for what in
life '-the quest for perfect beauty -
matters most. Poor Joey is left out in
the cold, flailing around in search o f
some means of creative expression that
might win her mother's love. On the
paternal side, the affections are rever-
sed (perhaps a little too patly): Mar-
shal considers Joey closer to him than
anyone else, and all but ignores Renata.
Allen creates a fascinating ex-
ploration of parental conflicts infesting
themselves in children's personalities.
Interiors dramatizes the frustrating
way our fears and desires, tracingback

to childhood, may be inescapable.
When Joey clings to her mother only to
be told she doesn't offer enough sup-
port, we see how we may be bound to
hopes not only futile but self-destruc-
AS DIRECTOR, Allen has not only
eliminated anything remotely, super-
fluous but molded some of the most
uniformly brilliant performances in a
long while. Keaton abandons her en-
dearing Annie Hall character - a feat
she failed in the disasterous Looking for
Mr. Goodbar - and creates a chilling
portrait of a woman living in a constant
state of nervous breakdown. Hurt, Grif-
fith, and Marshall are all impressive,
but Maureen Stapleton's Pearl looks
ridiculous and noble at the same time,
and she truly does glow with life. Gor-
don Willis' (Annie Hall)
cinematography is always handsome,
but never gratuitously pretty; his
beautifully photographed "interiors"
are luxurious but devoid of genuine
warmth. In one scene, Allen expresses
the essence of Keaton's character with
a single shot of a grey, dying tree.
While Allen deserves infinite praise
for the subtlety of his charac-
terizations, I find Interiors has a shor-
tcoming, and one that may grow per-
ceptibly with every viewing: Allen's
direction is so pre-packaged and per-
fectly mapped-out, that it's hard to
gauge whether the characters are con-
sistend because they are so richly
drawn, or because Allen made a mam-
moth grid-sheet before shooting began
and fastidiously worked out every
detail. My guess is that it is a little of
both. Certainly the dialogue is rich and
subtle (the first time I saw the film, a
line like "the intimacy of (death) em-
barasses me" seemed unduly preten-
tious; on second viewing I realized how
it reflected the arty pretention of Diane
Keaton's character).
NEVERTHELESS, something about
Interiors is a little eoo consistent. This
movie is a high school English
teacher's dream; :e very scene, every
line, in fact, has its purpose. Although
this is a welcome alternative to sloppy
characterizations, Woody Allen licks a
certain audacity in Interiors, the kind
of temperament lesser directors have
had when they've included scenes that
elicit responses like, "I wonder what he
meant by that." When Pearl walks into
the house wearing her life-force-red
dress, there's a spelled-out quality to
the moment that mitigates its effec-
There is the argument, of course, that
the story's structure echoes its theme
metaphorically. But if Woody Allen is
truly fashioning his own "interior,"
surely he doesn't think he's suppressing
his own artistic emotions. The con-
trolled explicitness of Interiors is more
a literary stuffiness than an at-
mosphere of repression. Antonioni used
his characters like puppets and planned
out everything in Blow-Up, but the joy
of that film lies in submitting yourself
to the director's control. The same is
true of Hitchcock. Woody Allen has
tried to create characters who live and
breathe with the same free-flowing
predictability of real life. He's suc-
ceeded, but Interiors could stanid to be a
little less perfect. After all, real life
does have its rough spots.

--- .m- ------- --- -- ---- -- -
Circle date tickets desired:
November 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, l0at 8p.m. $4.0--center orchestra and balcony
November 5 at 2 p.m. $4.00-side orcjestra and balcony
November I at 2 p.m.rand 9 p.m. tickets @ $ for a totalcof $




City State _ _Zip
Mail order with stamped, self-addressed envelope and check payable to UAC-
MUSKET, 530 S. State St., Ann Arbor, Ml 48109.
Phone 763-1107 for further information.

Call 764-0558


conductor & cello soloist


in a special

performance at

Ann Ar-ocr

Iw, nrr..1ininc f:.~ kt,..m in..,.mnk hU-Cralli:Co-ncerto rosso ~nin1F maior,(JOa.h6N M


Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan