An Unmarried Woman Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 12, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2008
Why is this great film so forgotten?
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2015
Paul Mazursky's poignant, observant and moving drama is his magnum opus as a director and writer. The film's greatest asset is the bravura turn by the late Jill Clayburgh who delivers the performance of her career, that earned her a richly deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Ms. Clayburgh plays Erica, a New York City, Upper East Side woman who seems to be doing all the right things until the day her husband of 16 years, played superbly by Michael Murphy, announces he's leaving her for another younger woman. Ms. Clayburgh's realignment of her priorities is fascinating to watch, and she slowly becomes an independent, strong, proficient woman who discovers her new sexual freedom. Brilliant direction by the late Paul Mazursky who also wrote the intelligent Academy Award nominated original screenplay with skillful attention to character details. Exceptional supporting performances by Alan Bates, Cliff Gorman, Patricia Quinn, Kelly Bishop, Lisa Lucas, Linda Miller, and Andrew Duncan. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Highly Recommended.
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2009
Jill Clayburgh is outstanding as a woman who is suddenly divorced from her husband of 16 years. She struggles with her new freedom and has to learn to trust men again and how to live for herself. This movie has been done a hundred times since it release in 1978 so it loses some of its original thunder. It still has some of originality and the acting is very good, especially Alan Bates.
June 26, 2015
I enjoyed this but felt disconnected emotionally- it could have benefitted from pushing more boundaries and rearranging some scenes. The sex scene with the creep artist gets more chemistry than Alan Bates' does. Ultimately satisfying though, I enjoy her anger and I enjoy her choices to not look back. Great final scene as well.
December 9, 2009
Back in 1978, a huge fuss was made about this film and Jill Clayburgh's performance. At the time I felt both were overrated, and now 30 years later, I still feel it is overrated. The film is good, as is Clayburgh. Just not great or one of the best of the year. It did tackle a subject very much in the media at the time - divorce and how it effects all those involved. It's a bit pretentious.
½ May 7, 2008
A slow moving, but relatively enjoyable film. I don't know I would have nominated it for Best Picture. Maybe in it's day. But I adore Jill Clayburgh and Kelly Bishop so I had to see it.
February 5, 2008
Very good film from the 70's that made its mark, telling the story of a woman faced with sudden liberation. Well done on all accounts. The only exception I would make would be for Bill Conti's overbearing film score. Way too much when subtlety would have been the much better choice.
½ July 21, 2007
When I first saw this movie I was awed by the power of the character's growth. As a marriage ends, the character spirals into despair and meets herself and finally finds joy.
September 24, 2015
This is the only movie I have seen in the theater where people walked out. But they didn't just walk out quietly, they shouted obscenities at the screen and exited thru the steel emergency exit doors and slammed them shut. Yes, it was that bad.
½ May 13, 2015
Uma série de diálogos coloridos e a consistência dos personagens contribuem para que "An Unmarried Woman" seja bastante recomendável como filme sofisticado sobre a recuperação emocional de uma mulher. A localização nova-iorquina e a existência de um quarteto de amigas fazem crer que o filme de Paul Mazursky poderá ter sido uma forte influência na concepção de "Sex and the City". Jill Clayburgh tem também um papel que nos deixar a pensar no porquê da actriz não ter ido muito mais longe que isto na carreira.
½ January 2, 2015
Yes, this movie can feel dated at times but obviously any movie dealing with social issues will - that's the measure of progress! The 1970s were a time of great social change, when all of the "radical" ideas of the 1960s finally seeped into Middle America. This movie depicts that time of sweeping social change. Jill Clayburgh is wonderful as a woman who finds herself "unmarried" after years of being the perfect wife. She finds a new family in her friends, learns to stand on her own with support from her lesbian therapist, and discovers the pain and joy of overcoming her "fear of flying." This movie is the upside of that other 70a single-woman film, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" so don't deny Jill her happiness. The final scene of her struggling with that huge canvas through the early era of SoHo is one of the classic images of 70s cinema - you just know she's going to make it after all.
½ November 23, 2014
Okay, right off the bat I'm pretty p.o. If you take your clothes off in front of your husband and literally stick your naked breasts in his FACE, while he's lying relaxed on your marital bed, and you then refuse to have sex with him... then you are a total beyotch from he11. That is all.
August 7, 2014
"An Unmarried Woman" wouldn't be a bold title today, but in the '70s, it was a statement, grounded in the feminist movement that was being shown through films like "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "3 Women". But the three films I've mentioned are not preachy, not trying to prove a point. They are, instead, films that portray women who are suddenly thrust into a world in which independence is a very real thing that they weren't so sure of before.
The lead character in "An Unmarried Women", Erica Benton (Jill Clayburgh), is given the bad news with a swift punch that is lubricated by crocodile tears. Her husband (Michael Murphy), has been seeing a younger woman for over a year, and decides that he would like to trade his domestic happiness for someone else.
Erica feels like she has been thrown into a pile of glass. Married for 16 years, with a well-adjusted daughter (Lisa Lucas), and a cushy lifestyle, she simply does not understand how her husband could suddenly go under the "terrible men" category.
For months, Erica can hardly control her emotions. She cries all the time, sometimes goes into inexplicable rages, and finds the idea of "dating" to be a scary thing. But in one of the best, most sad/funny scenes of the film, she has a one-night stand with a co-worker, because shit, she can.
She fiddles around for a while, exploring her newfound single life with no regrets - but when she meets Saul (Alan Bates), a British artist, she is hit with a love arrow that she thinks she isn't ready for. But Saul is everything her ex-husband wasn't. Rugged, confident, sensitive, and most importantly, actually interested in her. When he invites her to stay for the summer with him and his children in Vermont, Erica must decide if she is ready to commit again, or if she isn't quite yet done being an independent woman.
Mazursky's direction and writing is so phenomenal that I almost had to stop the film a few times just to absorb everything he presents. He so seamlessly makes the film funny, truly tragic, and full of realizations.
There is a memorable scene in the film where Erica and her close friends (who may as well be the second generation of "The Golden Girls") discuss how there aren't any women in movies these days as brassy and self-aware as Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn - they are left with Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand, who, despite being fantastic actresses, are more normal, less confident in themselves.
Yet, Erica is as interesting to watch as Davis or Hepburn ever were, maybe because she is as equally truthful or because she is so easy to care about. When Davis or Hepburn performed, you always felt like they were playing themselves, never truly putting on a grand performance that we could tell was fake. But Clayburgh is the exact same way - she throws her tears and laughs into the wind, and we can grab ahold of them.
In the beginning of the film, she dances in her underwear to "Swan Lake" in the lonely hours of the morning - Mazursky gives us enough intimate scenes like this to feel connected to Erica, and Clayburgh is so unabashedly unafraid that we want to be a part of her life. Later, when she invites Saul over for dinner to meet her daughter, I was possibly even more worried than her - what if Patti doesn't like him? If Mazursky's writing wasn't as great as it is, surely, I wouldn't be as overly concerned as I was.
"An Unmarried Woman" is not only a social statement, but a masterpiece in combining comedy and drama without any falsities. It's so flawless in tone that we feel as if we're watching life happen, and Erica is a character we want to take journey with. It's a moving, touching film. A must-see.
½ October 3, 2007
Jill Clayburgh received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for playing an ordinary woman who goes through divorce and identity crisis in this quintessential New York movie that was championed by the feminist movement in the 1970s.
March 11, 2014
Clayburgh is a wonder but Alan Bates was so good and so to good to be true that his performance throws some people out of the movie. Once again, their loss.
½ August 21, 2011
There's not much to say about this movie, other than it drags on a little too long.
May 10, 2012
The film has a great tone over all, but the story plots just seemed so discontinuous from each other that you tend to loose interest when it starts changing direction.
½ April 30, 2012
Surprisingly absorbing character study in which Jill Clayburgh plays a happily married housewife and mother in New York City. However, those days of happiness take an ugly turn when her husband confesses to her in having an ongoing affair, of which she dumps him as a result. She then begins to slowly discover herself, finding new men to meet as well seeing a psychologist. In addition, she begins to develop a stronger relationship with her daughter. Clayburgh, whose films have sort of disappeared off the radar, is fine as the betrayed housewife and the film does not trend into sentimentality, as far as I'm concerned. It is never boring and oddly, the cast members are not well known yet they all add fine support to the story. Very good film.
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