A Woman Under the Influence
Love is not enough to heal the madness that afflicts Mabel Longhetti (Gena Rowlands), and her tough blue-collar husband Nick Longhetti (Peter Falk) just doesn't have the financial, intellectual or emotional resources to make much of a difference. He is finally sufficiently exasperated with her increasingly erratic behavior that he commits her to a mental institution for a short stay. Among his working-class peer group, this is an almost unheard-of thing to do, and it is a measure of his desperation that it happens. When he goes to pick her up at the end of her stay, he is full of hope that things will have improved between them, but by the time the couple have driven back to their house, he realizes that nothing has changed. This bleak story is enlivened by the precise realism the actors bring to their parts, and the low-key, almost cinema verité direction of Cassavetes. An unexpected box-office success, this difficult and demanding film also scored an Oscar nomination for Rowlands and Cassavetes.