Interviewer: Are you interested in the new paths or trends within current Hollywood productions being tried by people like Coppola, Schrader, Spielberg, Scorsese, or De Palma?
Stanley Kubrick: I think one of the most interesting Hollywood films, well not Hollywood—American films—that I’ve seen in a long time is Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends. That film, I thought, was one of the very rare American films that I would compare with the serious, intelligent, sensitive writing and filmmaking that you find in the best directors in Europe. It wasn’t a success, I don’t know why; it should have been. Certainly I thought it as a wonderful film. It seemed to make no compromise to the inner truth of the story, you know, the theme and everything else.
When her best friend and roommate Anne (Anita Skinner) abruptly moves out to get married, professional photographer Susan (Melanie Mayron) finds herself adrift. Of course she’s happy for her friend. Sort of. But what does this mean for them? And more importantly, for her? Who else might step in to fill the void? She has a one night stand with a virtual stranger (played by Christopher Guest a couple of years before Spinal Tap) but develops a crush on Rabbi Gold (Eli Wallach), three decades her senior. She finds a new roommate (Amy Wright) but that proves complicated too.
“This delightfully real New York independent film was directed by Claudia Weill, one of a few ’70s pioneers that broke into the ’men only’ director’s club. Filmed on 16mm, the story of a struggling Manhattan photographer overflows with natural performances from endearing actors. Ms. Weill presents aspiring types she seems to know well, and casts them with actors that were more or less living those lives already. The result is a collection of performances that seem less ’actorly’ and more authentic. The producer/director also isn’t afraid to embrace sentiment and force her characters to undergo issues that might be confused with clichés. The style seems to be to avoid stylization. If the movie is feminist, it’s only because it generates empathy for worthy female individuals.” Glenn Erickson, Trailers from Hell
Claudia Weill’s insouciant New York comedy from 1978 is a little indie gem and lo-fi miracle whose emotional force catches you glancingly. Girlfriends now looks like a pop-cultural ancestor to any number of romcoms, as well as to Single White Female, TV’s thirtysomething (in which Melanie Mayron also starred) and Sex and the City... Girlfriends is a stylish movie about love and the city.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
There is an almost overpowering sense of relief when watching Girlfriends that all stories matter: that the personal politics and insecurities so few of us live without are … worthy of being projected on cinema screens.
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, The Blue Lenses
Fresh, timely and relevent… In barely 90 minutes, the film tells a compelling story that had rarely been seen before 1978, and far too infrequently since, a story that revolves around a woman and is primarily focused on her relationships with other women. Claudia Weill directs nimbly and with a sure command of the filmmaking craft.
Peter Martin, Screen Anarchy
Melanie Mayron, Anita Skinner, Eli Wallach, Christopher Guest, Bob Balaban, Amy Wright
Bronze Leopard for Best Actress (Melanie Mayron), Locarno 1978; People’s Choice Award, TIFF 1978
Patrizia von Brandenstein
More Films in This Series
One of the most underrated films of its era, Paul Schrader's first film as director has vivid, compelling turns from Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto as desperate Detroit auto workers who rip off their own union's funds.
The Late Show
Ira (Carney) comes out of retirement when his old partner Harry bleeds to death on his doorstep. What had he been working on? The case of a missing cat... Lily Tomlin, Harry's kooky client, joins forces to unearth the truth - and get her cat back.
John Waters' trashiest, most robustly offensive, and funniest satire is a film about women, and what they really, really want. Sensitive types should avert their eyes.
Saturday Night Fever
John Travolta - 22 playing 19 - is Tony Manero, a Brooklyn-born and bred Italian American. By day he works in a paint store. At night, he struts his stuff on the dance floor. An enthralling mixture of working class realism and dance floor euphoria