Interiors

by BrianKoller

It's hard to believe that Woody Allen's biggest box office flop, Interiors, was the film immediately following his biggest commercial success, Annie Hall (1977). And it's hard to believe that his worst movie, Interiors, was the immediate predecessor of his best film, Manhattan (1979).

Some critics have unwisely hailed Interiors as a masterpiece. Others were at least kind enough to praise Allen for taking such a career chance. It was the first film directed by Allen in which he didn't appear, and it was his first attempt at 'serious' drama.

Serious indeed. There's hardly even a semblance of comedy in Interiors, an incredibly talky film in the style of Allen's hero, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.

Although only ninety minutes long, sitting through the film is a painful experience. None of the characters apparently have ever had a feeling without expressing it, which usually amounts to whining or complaining. The script is mostly a series of tedious arguments. The cast is loaded with unhappy people who feel sorry for themselves, despite their privileged lives.

As in the much superior Hannah and Her Sisters, Allen's offscreen girlfriend plays the most stable of three sisters. Renata (Diane Keaton) is a published poet, married to failed novelist Frederick (Richard Jordan). Her sister Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) is a would-be writer who keeps changing careers when she should be changing her glasses. Joey's boyfriend Mike (Sam Waterston) is yet another failed writer, even more self-pitying than Frederick. The final sister is Flyn (Kristin Griffith), an attractive actress whose career has thrived despite appearing in a series of bad films.

The parents of the three grown daughters are Arthur (E.G. Marshall) and Eve (Geraldine Page). Marshall has left Page for Pearl (Maureen Stapleton). One can't blame him, since Pearl is friendly and fun-loving, while Eve is even more self-obsessed than her progeny. Eve is devastated by Arthur's exit, and her ceaseless depression has led to suicide attempts and hospitalizations.

The film is even more somnolent than the above summary would indicate. All things considered, it might be more entertaining to repeatedly prick your fingers with a sewing needle, than to actually watch this film.

Somehow, Interiors was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Actress (Page), Best Supporting Actress (Stapleton), Best Director (Allen), Best Screenplay (Allen) and Best Art Direction. (39/100)

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