Had Woodward been as cynical, joyless, and venom-filled as the character she portrays, I seriously doubt her marriage would have lasted all these years. Interestingly enough, it is her husband who directed her through what amounts to a fine performance -- their daughter also plays Matilda, by the way. All of the roles in the film are demanding ones, so it's quite an accomplishment that the cast members turn in such authentic characterizations. Let's face it, Woodward has been much underrated as a film actress, and here she takes an unpleasant character and makes her someone that the audience cannot take its eyes off of. Hints are dropped about Beatrice's once promising future, which we can see for ourselves has never been realized. As a mother all she is capable of any longer is berating her daughters and generating more pitiful complaints. The daughters are a combination of youthful dreams and dread for an adulthood that is every bit as dank as their mother's present. Several signs suggest that Ruth is destined to become like her mother, and though both daughters' prospects remain intact when we last see them, it is sad-faced Matilda who seems destined to actually fulfill her promise.