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A Woman Under the Influence film image

A Woman Under the Influence

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John Cassavetes’ greatest success is built on a fearless, tour-de-force performance from Gena Rowlands as Mabel Longhetti, a working class wife and mom who sometimes struggles to keep it all together. Peter Falk is her husband, a proud man who loves Mabel, but is also ashamed of her. Love, as the song goes, will tear you apart.

When I think of this film, it’s all about Gena Rowlands; it’s one of the greatest on-screen performances ever in my opinion. But also, Peter Falk is amazing. And it’s John Cassavetes at his best. Although the film explores the difficult and heavy subject matter of mental illness, it somehow manages to deliver so much heart, humor, joy, and love to this beautiful story as well. There is a palpable energy in the performances, the writing, the camera moves and editing that all just leaps through the screen. There is a messiness, a raw, ’don’t give a f***’ attitude in the filmmaking here that I believe is the essence of great indie cinema and which is what makes John Cassavetes truly one of the greats.
Anthony Shim


October 2 & 8: Introduced by Leading Lights guest programmer Anthony Shim


Supported by


Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, Katherine Cassavetes

Country of Origin





Leading Lights



155 min
Award Winners Drama

Book Tickets

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Sam Shaw


John Cassavetes


David Armstrong, Sheila Viseltear

Original Music

Bo Harwood


John Cassavetes headshot

John Cassavetes

Among the most influential of all American filmmakers, John Cassavetes forged his own path, combining a successful career as an actor for hire (The Dirty Dozen; Rosemary’s Baby) with his own independent productions as writer-director. Cassavetes’ own films are raw, abrasive portraits of men and women wrestling with their demons, typically shot in a verité style, and feature powerhouse performances from his wife, Gena Rowlands, and regular collaborators Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Seymour Cassel, as well as extended family members. Cassavetes died in 1989 at the age of 59.

Filmography: Shadows (1958); Faces (1968); Husbands (1970); Opening Night (1977); Love Streams (1984)

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