Another Woman (1988): Woody Allen Melodrama Starring Gena Rowlands


Though not one of Woody Allen’s strongest films, it’s worth seeing this self-conscious, Bergman-like melodrama for its impressive cast, including Gena Rowlands and Gene Hackman (who had never worked with Allen before).
Rowlands plays an aging philosophy professor Marion Post, who goes through a midlife crisis of sorts, realizing how dreary her emotional life has been.
Marion is married to Ken, a physician (British actor Ian Holm), and has a good relationship with her stepdaughter Laura (Martha Plimpton). Marion, like most of Allen’s protags, has a seemingly good, comfortable upper-middle class life, revolving around her work and its solid status and stable marriage to a loving husband.
At the same time, she avoids the company of her irritating brother (Yulin). But mostly her life is dominated by the anxiety and fear of losing her ailing and rapidly declining father (played by John Houseman).
Marion’s life changes, when she accidentally hears a therapy session with a psychiatric patient who’s pregnant (Mia Farrow). Obsessed by the young woman, whose name is Hope. As Hope reminds Marion of herself, she begins to follow her, needing to know all about her.
Life imitates art: This was the last part played by Oscar-winning actor and producer John Houseman. David Ogden Stiers plays the father of Marion as a young girl.
In a typical Allen way, Marion embraks on a journey of self-scrutiny and analysis. She begins to dig deep in herself, revisiting her past, searching for answers to what went wrong.
Too bad that the narrative is so contrived, reflexive, and self-conscious, as the movie boasts the best actors working in the theater and cinema today, including (in addition to those already mentioned): Blythe Danner, Betty Buckley, and Sandy Dennis.
Inevitably, while you watch “Another Woman,” you flash back to the great roles she had played in her husband-director John Cassavetes films (“A Woman Under the Influence,” “Opening Night,” “Love Streams”), all emotionally disturbed (mentally ill?) women. Allen’s film offers exactly the opposite role: a rather cold, detached intellectual and complacent wife, who needs to wake up and listen more carefully to her heart.
Produced by Robert Greenhut
Directed and written by Woody Allen
Camera: Sven Nykvist
Editing; Susan E. Morse
Production design: Santo Loquasto
Costumes: Jeffrey Kurland
Gena Rowlands, Ian Holm, Mia Farrow, Gene Hackman, Blythe Danner, Sandy Dennis, Martha Plimpton, Harris Yulin, David Ogden Stiers, John Houseman, Betty Buckley, Philip Bosco.
Running time: 83 Minutes