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Old Boyfriends

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Joan Tewkesbury is still best known as the screenwriter of Robert Altman’s Nashville (she also cowrote Thieves Like Us). This is her one and only theatrical feature as director. It’s an intriguing, curious story about a psychologist, Diane Cruise – played by Talia Shire, then coming off Rocky – who embarks on a road trip to revisit her old boyfriends in the wake of her marriage falling apart. As she explains in voice over: “I realized if I could figure out why I loved them then, I could figure out myself and love myself.” Among them, Richard Jordan is a personable filmmaker she dated in college and who still has a thing for her, and John Belushi a wannabe rocker who humiliated her back in high school. A third ex died in Vietnam, and Diane turns to his mentally ill younger brother (Keith Carradine) instead.

The screenplay is by Paul and Leonard Schrader, but Tewkesbury and Shire ensure the movie is more than its literary conceit, becoming a complex, albeit sometimes elusive portrait of a woman exploring many aspects of herself, and evolving as she does.

As for Tewkesbury, she has since worked exclusively in television.

Screening in 35mm

Dianne’s reckless yet finely calculated mission, haunted by her memories of frustration and abuse, combines exorcism and revenge. Working with a script by the brothers Paul and Leonard Schrader, Tewkesbury deftly balances a discordant range of tones: realistic and symbolic, comedic and tragic, lucid and unhinged.

Richard Brody, New Yorker

The film belongs to Shire, whose subtly shifting expressions seem to induce the film’s abrupt changes in mood and tone. She moves between being funny, sexy, wistful, and aloof, often within the same scene. Shire imbues her character with a sense of grim playfulness, the spirit of a woman with nothing to lose picking a new personality from one moment to the next as if she were trying on different outfits.

Keith Watson, Slant


Joan Tewkesbury


Talia Shire, John Belushi, Richard Jordan, Keith Carradine

Country of Origin






103 min

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Executive Producer

Paul Schrader


Edward R. Pressman, Michele Rappaport


Paul Schrader, Leonard Schrader


William A. Fraker


William Reynolds

Original Music

David Shire

Art Director

Peter Jamison

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