HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
Butterfly Murders, The
Pimp
Feedback
Lady is a Square, The
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Dark Rendezvous
Silk Road
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
   
 
  Desperate Characters Isolation Alienation Degradation
Year: 1971
Director: Frank D. Gilroy
Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Kenneth Mars, Sada Thompson, Jack Somack, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, Chris Gampel, Mary Alan Hokanson, Robert Bauer, Carol Kane, Michael Higgins, Michael McAloney, Wallace Rooney, Rose Gregorio, Elena Karam, Nick Smith, Robert Delbert
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is early evening in New York City and husband and wife Otto (Kenneth Mars) and Sophie (Shirley MacLaine) have sat down to dinner, but as he chunters on about his law firm and the business partner he is growing apart from, she notices something at the patio doors: a stray cat. It has been there before, and Otto tells her she shouldn't have fed it because that simply encourages what amounts to a wild beast, but her heart has melted a little at the sight of the creature and she goes to fetch it a saucer of milk. However, when it begins lapping, she pets it and is bitten on the hand for her trouble, which somehow sums up the mood of the entire city: don't go out of your way to be nice, or else...

Director Frank Gilroy had made his breakthrough on the stage, though he had been writing for television for a good decade or so, with The Subject was Roses, also adapted into a movie, but his best known work as director was likely the out of character and rather excellent Charles Bronson Western From Noon Till Three a few years after this. Desperate Characters was a very nineteen-seventies sort of drama, in that it portrayed the modern malaise after the hangover from the unrest of the previous era, and where better to set that than New York? After all, the coming years would see the place fall to rack and ruin as it went bankrupt and poverty and crime dominated.

This was a strong hint of the hardship to come, then, as Sophie wanders through the surroundings adrift, as if she were coming of age a few years later than she should have and found an utter lack of focus or direction now she is meant to achieve an understanding and independence of her own. It's like getting to the end of a very involved mystery novel only to discover the last few pages are blank and everything is left up in the air, and the unease, that off-kilter air was very tangible thanks to Gilroy's direction, at once sympathetic yet at a remove. He continually used the tight close-up on his actors, and this unwanted intimacy was striking in that it forced you to search their features for some clue of what they were thinking, or if indeed they had any clues themselves.

And time and again that invasion of their personal space, passive aggressively demanding some kind of answer to prevent everything falling apart even further than it is already, comes up wanting, for it's clear even the most intelligent characters have no idea of how to slow the slide of society into the mire. We feel as if we're not getting the whole story, but that is down to the story still unfolding as we leave the characters lost in their difficult to pin down misery, Gilroy doesn't so much leave us hanging as depict a world where there is no end but the eventual entropy which will see everything break up and scattered lazily into the icy void. Sounds like a barrel of laughs, right? In fact, what should have been almost comically miserable and dejected leaves you lost in thought.

But with no more answers than Sophie has; she's not even sure if she loves Otto anymore, and may not have loved him in the first place, it's just something that happened and now she's stuck with it. MacLaine had a curious decade in the seventies as around this point she was starring in her flop sitcom Shirley's World, and that seemed to put her off appearing on screen for a while; straight after this was the uncomfortable horror The Possession of Joel Delaney, a film just as disquieted as this one, and she dropped off the cultural radar to a degree, as if her performance in those works, which were both excellent, especially in this, had exhausted her. Here she has to numbly react to such things as a man lying apparently dead outside her home, or Otto's legal partner demanding she accompany him in the wee small hours on a tour of the city without her husband, or her best friends impenetrably arguing, and so on. There was even an out of character nude scene late on which was no less discomfiting in a strange, echoing film, not exactly enjoyable but hard to look away from.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2119 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: