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Faces (The Criterion Collection)

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The disintegration of a marriage is dissected in John Cassavetes' searing Faces. Shot in high-contrast 16 mm black and white, the film follows the futile attempts of captain of industry Richard (John Marley) and his wife, Maria (Lynn Carlin), to escape the anguish of their empty marriage in the arms of others. Featuring astonishingly powerful, nervy performances from Marley, Carlin, and Cassavetes regulars Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel, Faces confronts suburban alienation and the battle of the sexes with a brutal honesty and compassion rarely matched in cinema.

SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:
New, restored high-definition digital transfer
Seventeen-minute alternate opening sequence, from an early edit of the film
Cinéastes de notre temps (1968), a 48-minute episode from the French television series dedicated to Cassavates, featuring rare interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
Making Faces, a 2004 documentary including interviews with actors Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, Gena Rowlands, and director of photography Al Ruban
Lighting and Shooting the Film, a short documentary from 2004 in which Ruban explains how he and the crew achieved the distinct look of Faces
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Stuart Klawans

Review

Astonishing--a film that tenderly, honestly, and uncompromisingly examines the way we really live. --Roger Ebert

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Gena Rowlands, John Marley, Seymour Cassel
  • Directors: John Cassavetes
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012TH9M0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Martin Doudoroff on October 19, 1999
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Faces" carries the dubious distinction of being considered the first "breakthrough" independent American feature.
"Faces" is a John Cassavetes film. It is also categorically one of the two or three greatest masterpieces of American cinema. (This is neither just a personal opinion, nor an exaggeration. This film is essential.) What makes this film so special will be lost on many domestic viewers, unfortunately, who simply aren't prepared for the experience. Nearly everything about the film is subversive of conventional Hollywood filmmaking techniques, and this is frustrating for people who aren't ready for it. For example, the film never "tells" you anything about the characters: you have to patiently observe them throughout the film, just as if they were real other people in the room. Furthermore, in typical Cassavetes' style, the characters' behavior is extreme, which can be unsettling. Finally, the film is pretty grim. However, if you're ready for a new experience, and can approach the viewing experience with an open and tolerant mind, this film will BLOW YOU AWAY.
The DVD is nothing special; I'm just grateful to have the film. The transfer isn't particularly sharp, and was made off an inglorious print. Framing -- full frame -- seems fine; if I remember correctly, the original (16mm) is not widescreen, so nothing should be lost. (The odd cropping that appears throughout the film is intentional.) Highest recommendation.
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I've never seen a movie quite like this in my life! It's technically raw, the sound's bad and half the time I had no idea what was going on, but it builds to a brilliant portrait of four lonely lives. The bad jokes and laughter that eat up so much film time connect loose, rambunctious scenes that defy strict narrative logic--after a while it feels like you're watching this movie from the inside, right in the thick of the cigarettes and booze. As usual, Cassavetes shoots the '60s from unexpected angles: his focus is on the middle-aged middle managers and their fading suburban wives, stuck on the wrong side of the Sexual Revolution but still desperate to feel young and fulfilled. The movie doesn't make fun of them but brings you into their world, where disappointment, age and the pressures of conformity are finally getting the best of their vitality. Imagine "The Graduate" told from Mrs. Robinson's point of view. The powerful last scene ends in silence after a suicide attempt--no laughs, no routines. The death of a marriage or a new beginning? Cassavetes rarely matched this level of intensity. "Faces" is one of his very best.
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John Cassavetes is widely regarded as the father of the Independent film, who believed that risking anything was the only way to go, who bluntly told Scorsese Boxcar Bertha "sucked" (Scorsese then turned and created Mean Streets), and treated his crew like family who he payed very little (or at all). Whether or not Cassavetes is THE father of the Independent film is up to the film historians to decide. Besides, John Cassavetes was not interested in making films to make history or be the strict anti-trend to the big budget nature of Hollywood. John Cassavetes was interested in making films that give us truths about our lives, and he did so greatly, in a very different and low budget kind of nature that made his work seem even more honest. John Cassavetes Face's is, among the rest of his work, the most well known of his films to enter the public domain, and for many reasons is probably the best Cassavetes work to start with, next to A Women Under the Influence (a very devastating work).

Shot in Cassavetes' trademark documentary style filmmaking, the no BS approach to filming makes Faces even more realistic to watch. It is shot in high contrast black and white, and it look as low budget and unpolished as any other very low budget film. Don't be too surprised though, Faces is no banal third rate student film work. Cassavetes Oscar-nominated script effortlessly delves into the lives of these empty people and what makes them act the way they are. It is not a sloppy film either, as Cassavetes's camera work is actually quite inventive, and feels done right without making a big hoopla over how it is being used.
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This is a film that shows a married couple in the last stages of their damaged relationship,characters that step out of conventionalism and desperately seek alternatives to suffocate the bitterness and disapointment they are going through. Their behaviour seriously affects those they encounter along their way.
People like me who have watched other Cassavettes films know that they cannot expect an agreable entertainment. The direction is impecable, the acting outstanding but the story is so claustrophobic and tough that it 's difficult to digest.
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John Cassavetes was a sometime actor but primarily indie film director extraordinaire, and Faces was one of his best directing works. His beautiful real-life wife Gena Rowlands, then an Angie Dickinson lookalike, was his muse in many of his films including this one, playing a party girl/call girl with an assortment of men friends fighting over her attentions. One of the guys is John Marley (best remembered for his role as the Hollywood producer in the first Godfather, who finds a horse's head in his bed), who plays an unhappily married successful businessman, whose wife is also unfaithful. Seymour Cassel, a regular Cassavetes film participant, has a delightful role here of a ladies man barfly who has a group of disillusioned middle aged ladies enamored of him, all hoping to be his choice of the evening. In the different situations everyone is drinking highballs and making social attempts at gaiety to hide their inner unhappiness, which may be where the Faces title comes from, i.e. putting on a social face to hide the real person inside; although as well, there are many facial closeups of the actors throughout the film. One of the loveliest though somber film jazz scores ever, the soundtrack was made into a record that I used to own, but have looked for on CD and cannot find (the tunes evoke Chet Baker's style). Despite the serious tone of the movie, you will find a scene toward the end hysterically funny, that of the married wife caught cheating by the husband in their bedroom with Seymour Cassel, and his attempt to evade the husband is classic and hilarious. If you are not already a fan of John Cassavetes' offbeat films, this picture will intrigue you into becoming one.
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