An Unmarried Woman (1978)
An Unmarried Woman (1978)
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After hearing from his wife's divorced friends about their experiences, director Paul Mazursky decided, some years later, to interview several hundred divorced women. An Unmarried Woman humorously and affectionately bears the weight of that research, as it follows the joys, heartbreaks and adventures of its heroine, Erica (Jill Clayburgh). After 15 years of apparently happy marriage in New York City, Erica's husband Martin (Michael Murphy) unexpectedly and tearfully confesses that he is leaving her for a girl he met in a department store. She does not take this announcement well, and goes through many emotions in swift succession. In her ensuing desperation and depression, she seeks out Tanya, a psychiatrist (played by real-life psychiatrist Penelope Russianoff), who tries to get her to adjust to her present situation. To Erica, this means dating, which she does, sharing her hilarious morning-after appraisals with her coffee-klatch feminine pals. She gains enough confidence that when Charlie (Cliff Gorman), one of her so-so dates, says he wants a relationship, she sends him away. She discovers friendship and some joy in her encounters with Saul (Alan Bates), a British artist. When ex-husband Martin comes to her after being kicked out by his young girlfriend and asks to resume their marriage, Erica again opts for independence. Saul, too, asks to marry her, but she indicates that she has come to prize her independence -- any relationship she has will be on her terms from now on. This very adult movie, celebrating the trials and strengths of middle-aged women, was a box-office and critical success for director Mazursky. Indeed, some consider it his finest film. … More
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Critic Reviews for An Unmarried Woman
The action unfolds with a documentary-style geographical specificity, offering a time capsule of Manhattan locations, uptown and downtown alike.
There are scenes in An Unmarried Woman so well written and acted that our laughter is unsettling, the laughter of exact recognition.
Audience Reviews for An Unmarried Woman
The tale of the independent divorced woman had its beginnings in this Paul Mazursky helmed film; about Erica (Clayburgh), a wronged woman who begins living a new life when her scuzzy husband cheats on her with a younger woman. The narrative begins with their happy marriage, made better by her friend's jealousy, eventually derailed by her husband's confession. Erica is a proud, uninhibited, and lovable character, who finds herself thrust back into the world of dating after nearly twenty years, and does so with the vibrancy of a woman much younger. Through a high amount of self-esteem, confidence, and a good therapist, Erica dates once again, and finds independence, something a woman still barely earned in the late seventies. This film comes from a fresh perspective, and was the first instance of a film where divorce became a woman's new growth experience. This was the inspiration behind many contemporary films that deal with issue of starting anew, and this film does it best by showing a character who is harmonious to the upper class life, and throws it away for her own freedom's sake.
Why is this great film so forgotten?
A bit dated but one of the first attempts to deal with the "modern" woman who often find themselves divorced and open to "temptation" Strong performances but a dated topic.
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