That Cold Day in the Park (1969)
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Critic Reviews for That Cold Day in the Park
The plot is too improbable to be taken seriously, and yet director Robert Altman apparently does take it seriously.
Robert Altman's inauspicious first theatrical feature -- recognizably his work, meandering zooms and all, but the material is somewhat pretentious and hackneyed.
A disappointing, implausible film
Audience Reviews for That Cold Day in the Park
An irregular psychological drama that is well made in some aspects (especially the cinematography and editing) but not so successful in its direction, as it fails to engage and create the impact that one would expect from this story of deranged loneliness and manipulation.
"That Cold Day in the Park" is historically interesting as one of director Robert Altman's earliest films, but its main virtues are the story and Sandy Dennis' complex performance.
Dennis enters the film in her usual insecure, whiny guise playing Francis, a lonely woman who has aged beyond her years. She has a nice, inherited apartment but mostly knows older people and has few friends. One rain-soaked day, she spots a handsome guy (Michael Burns) shivering on a park bench below her window. After he lingers there for hours, she assumes he is homeless and generously calls him inside for a bath and meal. He turns out to be mute, which only adds to his pitiable traits. She invites him to temporarily stay in her extra room.
Further details shouldn't be revealed, but this initially sweet friendship darkens into a psychological duel in which we wonder whom to side with: Francis, who exploits her new roommate for companionship, or the unnamed lad, who exploits Francis for food and lodging.
"That Cold Day in the Park" has some dull patches, but its climax is worth the wait. Dennis carries about 80% of the film and arguably deserved an Oscar nomination. As for the Altman factor, the primary glimpses of his burgeoning style are a small part for Michael Murphy (who appeared in several later Altman projects) and, more importantly, some incidental experimentation with overlapping dialogue. The most notable example occurs in a gynecologist's waiting room -- which itself might foreshadow 2000's "Dr. T and the Women."
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