Thursday, November 28, 2013

Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)

Director: Frank Perry

Writers: Sue Kaufman, Eleanor Perry

Composer: no score

Starring: Carrie Snodgress, Richard Benjamin, Frank Langella, Lorraine Cullen, Frannie Michel, Lee Addoms, Peter Dohanos, Katherine Meskill

More info: IMDb

Tagline: I, Tina Balser, Housewife, Did Not Do My Chores Today. I Did...Something Else!

Plot: Tina Balser (Snodgress) is in a loveless marriage with Jonathan (Benjamin), an insufferable, social-climbing lawyer in New York City. He treats her like a trophy, refuses to back her in disputes over the raising of their children and belittles her in public. Searching for relief, she has an affair with writer George Prager (Langella), but this only drives her deeper into despair.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This movie is fucked up.  Poor Tina.  Wow.  She's surrounded by assholes - her husband, lover, children and group therapy members.  No one is nice to her but she goes along with it as if it's par for the course.  Her husband is a cad but he's upbeat about it.  His voice practically smiles as he demeans her at every opportunity.  And their young daughters treat mommy as they see their father treat her.  It's just awful.  Richard Benjamin plays her husband in such a way that feels either like it's a comedy (which it's not although in the pain there is humor) or he's overacting big time.  Once I realized this is being told by Tina's point of view, it was clear that Jonathan is being exagerated as is everything else in the picture.  Langella does a good job but he's almost too low key even though he's also a cad, just a younger, better looking one than Jonathan.  Snodgress is fantastic and I love it when she finally starts asserting herself.  There's one thing that I didn't realize until the end but there's no music score.  The first time Tina and George have sex, it's awfully quiet.  There was no music or dialogue.  It's fantastic albeit brief.  I would have liked the scene to last longer - not because of any nudity but that it was so nice to soak in the silence during it.

It doesn't end how you think it might.  In some way it's upbeat but then it's still a downer.  It's only after I watched the 94 minute VHS copy that I came across the above YouTube video that clocks in at 118 minutes.  Watch the longer cut.  I skimmed through it, finding a couple of things I missed.  What is added at the end with her kids is a nice little scene. 

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