Faces - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Faces Reviews

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November 25, 2017
Faces is a deeply challenging work, and at a relatively average (at least in today's world) 130 minutes it feels long and hefty at some points. There are many moments at which I wanted to just jump out of my chair and scream at a wall. It's despairing, hopeless, and almost exasperatedly elliptical. At its lightest, it's a hardcore, found-footage horror film that you'll walk out of understanding that life is an immense cluster of drunken balderdash. The strange thing about it is that while it's not exactly a very "fun" movie, it's layered and intelligent; a classic piece of 60's art that understands the science of relationships. Towards the beginning of the film it's actually kind of amusing at how jerky these characters are, but once you begin to relate to what's happening you feel like you need to take a bath (but even then, our character states: "people drown in baths"). As you can probably observe, it doesn't exactly let its viewers off easily, but still somehow provides the audience with intensely moving moments of pure revelation. The film looks and feels for real, as if we're eavesdropping on people's lives, so the intentionally shitty camera-work is justified. The actors work off each other nicely. You may not always sympathize with these people (for some viewers, never), but at the very least one can recognize that the actors who populate this film are pouring in their heart and soul and, by some bittersweet, two- faced miracle, never letting Hollywood sentimentality influence their performance. John Cassavetes, the director, isn't exactly a Bergman-esque dramatist but he is still, at least in my opinion, one of Herzog's "soldiers of cinema." Perhaps we should model ourselves after him, not necessarily as people, but as witnesses to this great movie.
July 7, 2017
masterpiece where all absolutley unique - camera work, actors play, editing and directing
December 19, 2016
Classic Cassavetes. Younger film-makers today, take notes. This is ultimately "mumblecore" handed to you on a silver platter!
August 26, 2016
John Cassavetes' Faces is all about disintegration of marriage, friendships and a middle class which has lost its meaning and purpose. Most characters sound cheerful and jubilant, however they are psychologically ruined and behind the gleeful facade they hide a disruptive hidden past. At times Cassavetes explores his characters relentlessly and viciously bringing out moments of great intensity and depth. This is accentuated by the sombre atmosphere and the grainy and documentary quality of the picture. In short Faces is not fun to watch but it's a great work of art which questions its viewers' values, relationships and life purpose.
½ May 16, 2016
Faces is direct and harsh picture; the result is like volatile, intelligent glimpse into characters so well-defined you'd swear they're real people.
½ November 7, 2015
A really captivating character study with superb performances from Gena Rowlands, Fred Rapper, Seymour Cassel, and Lynn Carlin. The writing, directing, and cinematography are equally superb
October 26, 2015
Spectacular in every measure. John Cassavetes is a genius, but that goes without saying. This is an incredibly acted and written film. I love how every scene is building on tension. If you looked away, you would miss so much. Everyone is just seconds away from snapping, or crying, or dying. The character depth is frighteningly beautiful. The acting is near perfect. There have been many movies made about marriage and infidelity, but this one seems the most real. I've found a new classic to put on my favorites list.
July 20, 2015
The American Dream, from the '60s standpoint, was supposed to be a fantasy lived by Lucy and Ethel and the Bradys. But "Life", "Vanity Fair", and "Photoplay" tended to stretch the truth for the sake of eye catching imagery, all red lipstick, picnic baskets, Ford convertibles, and not much else. And while Debbie Reynolds and Dick Van Dyke told us how we should be looking, acting, feeling, the rest of the world shifted in its mindset, going from years of repression to a sudden soul searching state of disillusion, increasingly thrown off course by the sexual revolution, Vietnam, and Watergate. I'm sure some of the period's population was decently happy, but a time of changed attitudes and values can only lead sights and sounds into places unexplored before, unsatisfying at their revelatory peaks.
"Faces", a defining film in the astonishing breadth of the daring '60s, grabs The American Dream by its lapels and throws its ideals down a life-sized paper shredder, screaming in our faces that Doris Day and her well-off friends lied - adorable romantic misunderstandings and colorful lifestyles is not the America America knows. It's just a drippingly chintzy version of one. So with its grainy, 16 mm black-and-white, emotive actors, and innate directorial style (courtesy of auteur John Cassavetes), "Faces" is one of the few films that convincingly captures the hardships that lacerate everyday life, placing each and every one of its characters at the center of a crisis and watching, unsparingly, how they handle it.
Following the disintegration of a fourteen year marriage over the course of a series of drunken nights, "Faces" examines Richard (John Marley) and Maria Forst (Lynn Carlin) as they attempt to navigate their loose vulnerabilities after Richard suddenly announces he wants a divorce. The proclamation makes perfect sense to Richard - he's been cheating on his wife for years (the film opens with a boozy get-together that sees him and his friend entertaining a couple of prostitutes) - but the exclamation nearly tears Maria in half. Though she's been unhappy for far too long, there's an underlying feeling that she really does love her husband, and while the union has run its course, she doesn't want to be alone in this cold, cruel world.
They spend the next few nights figuring out what's going to become of them, growing increasingly depressed and increasingly retrospective, pensive. Richard busies himself attempting to shack up with a hooker without a heart of gold (Gena Rowlands), Maria fogging out her loneliness with her female friends, gradually meeting a hippie (Seymour Cassel) well-meaning but damaging in his unrelenting positivity. By the end of the film, the Forsts don't find themselves freed by their lack of marital responsibility - hanging over their heads is a question mark drenched in sleeping pills and liquor, wondering aloud if all there is to look forward to in life is misery.
"Faces" isn't the kind of film made for the pure sake of enjoyment - most, including me, would much prefer to sit through a two-hour Bond adventure than a depressing, jarringly styled character piece - but its blunt truthfulness and knee-jerking performances make it a tour-de-force rewarding in its mesmerizing account of a world more authentic in its bare bones anguish than most. Never has Cassavetes settled for anything less than honest, so it's only fitting that the majority of his films throw his characters into a pit of chaos and sees where they land. In his most famous moment, "A Woman Under the Influence", he details the dissolve of a housewife's psyche, taking her marriage down with her; in "Love Streams", he throws curveball after curveball at characters so lost in a maze of depression that it's only reasonable to predict that they'll never make their way out.
"Faces" is the movie that first bolded and underlined his filmmaking style, pulling out massive emotional punches and drawing out visceral performances from his stock of actors. His moviemaking instincts are difficult to love at first glance - but after getting to know the situation and the people, the shaky camera, documentary-like, heightens the gutsiness of it all, adding to the dire circumstances that befall nearly every scene. As we analyze the ensemble of "Faces", split in half most of the time, a sense of impending doom slithers along the cracks of the ceiling. None of these characters are stable, so much so that we can only ponder if they will die naturally or if they will inflict wounds upon themselves to make their demise come quicker. The women of the film, Rowlands and Carlin, cover their sorrows with fake laughs and unconvincing smiles; Rowlands makes the case that her character has always been that way - she plays a prostitute, therefore used to irrepressible gloom - but Carlin goes on a downward spiral resembling Monica Vitti's mental deterioration in "Red Desert", absorbing but absolutely gut wrenching. The men, Marley and Cassel, seem more in control: but it quickly becomes apparent that their masculinity can only cover so much ground before their weaknesses begin to present themselves loudly.
At 147 minutes, "Faces" is demanding to sit through, sometimes tedious. But, like in all of Cassavetes' movies, there is so much depth to the lack of glamour that we're left torn up, perhaps longer than we'd like to admit. Because the Technicolor world isn't real - the 16 mm one is, and it's hard to accept.
½ February 13, 2015
One of the first independent American films that told the brutal, nihilistic truth about middle class woe, yet also a picture that delivers equal parts satire, realism, and sympathy. Cassavetes remains America's bona fide cinema verite director and chronicler of the undeniable neurosis that lies in every mid-American household.
December 5, 2014
It's not a documentary, although it feels real enough to be one.
½ October 11, 2014
Thematically speaking Faces reminds me heavily of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It follows the disintegration of a marriage between Richard and Maria. The big difference comes from the direction, where Woolf feels directed more as a stage play, with thoughtful long takes and a fairly still camera. Cassavetes throws us head first into the marital issues with a constantly moving camera, one that flows with the chaos or settles with the moments of tenderness. Cassavetes is fast becoming a favorite film maker of mine. He just has such a distinct and intense style that I could only describe as kinetic.
February 4, 2014
After fourteen years of marriage, a man leaves his wife for his prostitute mistress & the wife has a rebound fling with a hippie before attempting suicide in this stripped-down, visceral, monochromatic cinema verite.
½ October 28, 2013
I've been hearing and reading about this film since I became interested in film as an art form. It has taken me two decades to actually sit and down and "view" it. I'm glad it took this long. I doubt I would have really understood or had been able to relate to this film in my twenties or thirties. But, with two decades of living - Cassavetes' film hit more than a few chords. More of a film "experience" than a narrative story or plot, FACES delves into what has become the core of human need: connection to others beyond the simple social exchanges. I love the title. Al Ruban's cinematography is low-fi and frenetic. It has the feel of an uber-low budget cinéma vérité, but there is an almost fluid camera dance into the faces of almost every person in the movie. Interestingly, we are not really seeing "faces" but the masks we all learn to apply as we navigate through our lives. The faces only emerge when pushed to the extremes of life and propelled by the force of alcohol, pills and the need for love. Essentially, this is a study in the human desperation for love and the endless puzzle of how to secure and trust in the love we find. It is easy to understand why this 44 year old movie is still discussed and studied. Though, the clothing and decors have changed -- people have not. If anything, social interaction has become even more challenging in the wake of social media and fallout from our parents Sexual Revolution. In a very key way, John Cassavetes and his team of artists have created a timeless and complex study into the heart of humanity. Certainly, this film will not be for everyone. It takes more than a few minutes to find your way into the flow, but once you do -- it is explosive.
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2013
Cassavetes' first endeavor into the world of marriage, with his second feature film, yielded a humane glimpse into the lives of two impossibly unhappy people who think they understand happiness. The husband believes he understands that a fourteen year marriage, security, and repetition makes for an unhappy person, and so he leaves his wife in the middle of the night to fall into the arms of a younger woman. The wife believes she is happy already, and though shocked by her husband's request, knows to find it elsewhere while she still can. Both of them journey back into the night to find people to give them their satisfaction, their happiness, but sadly they both find that the crumbling of a decade long marriage does not relinquish them from one another. What comes of the wide scope and interesting subject matter covered, is a film that speaks about how uncomfortable we all are when we're placed in our separate boxes, and how happiness is relative and finite. The camera follows each of them as they find others to spend the night with. Richard (Marley) falls back in with a group of people who think they're completely different than anyone else, and have found happiness in greed, sex, and wealth. Jeannie (Rapp) finds appeal in alcohol, being out with other women, and youth. Both husband and wife believe that being with someone younger predicates happiness, and that decision proves fatal to one and heartbreaking to the other. Cassavetes made a film that is ungodly uncomfortable to watch from beginning to end. It is the epitome of people going through a mid-life crisis, though Jeannie is only putting on a show for her husband to show she doesn't care. Neither of them finds what they're looking for by the end of the film, and both probably regret the actions they took the night before, but it seems that neither will admit anything either. In the last scene we're left with disillusionment as both find themselves changed by the night before, but remain silent and pensive. It's clear that Cassavetes wants us to examine ourselves, and what we perceive as happiness, as romance, but not in such a one sided approach as society has dictated. Though many characters ramble and it feels inconsistent at times, it is a good portrait of a couple who have lost their way.
½ September 16, 2013
Bit too much of a wander from Mr Cassavetes.
August 13, 2013
Gripping and somber.
August 5, 2013
About the deterioration of a marriage during the sixties.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2013
I wasn't terribly impressed. Yes, it's filmed beautifully and the black and white is effective. But to me, it's two hours of people getting drunk and dribbling s$&t. And the drunken singing, dear god, make it stop.
I'm not an idiot who can't appreciate films as art and likes everything nicey nice with a happy ending. Some of my favourite movies are dark as hell. This, however, is just too long and it's irritating. If I wanted to watch drunken fools, I could go hang out down the pub.
I was interested in the premise of an unhappy couple and the monotony of suburbia, but these weren't like regular people. I thought this theme was done very well in Revolutionary Road, and I guess I thought this might be in the same vein.
To top it all off, the mono sound meant I had to watch the whole movie with subtitles on because I could hardly understand what anyone was saying. (Then I felt like maybe I should switch them off again as maybe it would be preferable to the nonsense they were actually talking).
Even having a hooker as a character couldn't make this interesting.
This movie seems very popular, but I can't believe it's just me.
June 17, 2013
What a fucking force of nature this film is. WOW.
May 29, 2013
An overlong film with interest in relationships and close up emotions. At times loses any focus and interest waners throughout. Great in parts, poor in others.
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