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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Produced by||Robert Greenhut|
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Editing by||Susan E. Morse|
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures|
|Running time||84 min.|
Another Woman is a 1988 American film written and directed by Woody Allen. The drama stars Gena Rowlands as a philosophy professor who accidentally overhears the private analysis of a stranger but finds the woman's regrets and despair awaken in her something personal.
Marion Post (Gena Rowlands) is a New York philosophy professor past the age of 50 on a leave of absence to write a new book. Due to construction work in their building, she sublets a furnished flat downtown to have peace and quiet.
Her work there is interrupted by voices from a neighboring office in the building where a therapist conducts his analysis. She quickly realizes that she is privy to the despairing sessions of another woman (Mia Farrow) who is disturbed by a growing feeling that her life is false and empty. Her words strike a chord in Marion, who begins to question herself in the same way.
She learns from her sister-in-law that her brother may idolize her, but he also hates her. She comes to realize that, like her father (John Houseman), she has been unfair, unkind and judgmental to many of the people closest to her: her brother Paul (Harris Yulin) and his fragile wife Lynn (Frances Conroy), her best friend from high school Claire (Sandy Dennis), her first husband Sam (Philip Bosco), and her stepdaughter Laura (Martha Plimpton).
She also realizes that her current marriage to Ken is unfulfilling and that she missed her one chance at love with his best friend Larry (Gene Hackman). She finally manages to meet the woman in therapy as she contemplates a Klimt painting called 'Hope' and, although she wants to know more about her, she ends up talking more about herself, realizing that she made a mistake by having an abortion years ago and that at her age there are many things in life she will not have anymore.
By the end of the film, Marion resolves to change her life for the better.
Marion Post is the director of undergraduate studies in philosophy at a “very fine women’s college”. Her husband is an accomplished cardiologist. It’s the second marriage for both of them.
She is on leave of absence to do some writing and has leased a flat to write due to construction noise next door. On her first day in the flat, she hears voices and discovers she can clearly hear through a vent the therapy sessions going on next door at a psychologist’s office. She places two couch cushions against the vent to block the sound. But later, after one of the cushions slips she can’t resist listing in on the confessions of an anguished woman. She is “totally arrested by it’s sadness”. The woman describes an incident in which she realizes her life seems meaningless and false. She reveals she sometimes considers suicide.
At a party for one their friends turning fifty, a couple they are friendly with tells about an incident in which they are having sex on the living room floor and the superintendent of their building interrupts them. Later, Marion asks her husband Ken privately if he would think of making love to her on the living room floor. He says he doesn’t see her as the “hardwood floor” type.
The next morning Lynn, Marion’s sister-in-law meets with Marion and asks her if she can borrow money as she and Paul are separating. In the course of the conversation Lynn tells Marion that her brother Paul hates her. Marion is shocked as says she doesn’t accept that.
In her writing flat, Marion overhears the same woman discuss her doubts about her marriage and that there was once another she loved which leads Marion to reflect on a similar situation in her own life. While engaged to Ken she had had a brief abortive affair with Larry, a friend of her then fiancé Ken. At an engagement party for Marion and Ken, Larry attempted to convince Marion to break off with Ken to be with Larry. An offer Marion rebuffed.
On a visit to her fathers, Marion looks through old photographs and reflects on her how her father had pushed her hard to be a successful academic and how he had always disapproved of her more free-spirited and unambitious brother, Paul. She also wonders what happened to one of her best friends as a teenager, Claire.
In an odd coincidence, she bumps into Claire who is an actress in from out of town and Marion goes to have a drink with Claire and her husband. Eventually Claire angrily confronts her husband for paying too close attention to Marion and Claire accuses Marion of having once ruined her chances with a boyfriend and says that they didn’t lose touch, but Claire had distanced herself from Marion because of Marion’s flirtation with her then boyfriend. Marion is shocked at this revelation and doesn’t remember the incident the same way, professing her innocence.
Later that night she asks Ken if they shouldn’t spend their anniversary alone rather than with their friends. He dismisses her attempts at romance.
Marion continues to listen in on the therapy sessions of the mysterious woman, and after wandering around the city finds herself at the office of her brother Paul. He says he realizes he disappointed her with the choices he’s made in his life and that her disapproval is why they are not close.
While napping at her writing flat, Marion has a dream where she walks into the therapy session of the mysterious woman and the therapist asks Marion how she would diagnose the woman’s ailment. Marion says self-deception and the therapist agrees. Then her father comes in and admits that he regrets that the woman he shared his life with was not the one he loved the most. She then finds herself watching a theatrical production dramatizing Marion and Ken’s relationship with her childhood friend Claire playing Marion. Claire playing Marion rails at Ken for their antiseptic and passionless relationship she then finds herself talking with Larry, the lover she had spurned while engaged and asks him if he ever still thinks of her. He says that he loved her deeply but that is now married and has left their relationship behind, but he did memorialize it in one of his novels.
Shopping for an anniversary gift for Ken, Marion is surprised to bump into the mysterious woman at an antiques store. She has been crying brought on by contemplating a painting by Klimt of a pregnant woman. The two end up going to lunch together and Marion drinks most of the wine because the mysterious woman is pregnant. Marion admits that she has regrets about missed opportunities such as never having a child. In a flashback, Marion remembers how she had had an abortion without consulting her then husband because she didn’t want a child to get in the way of her career.
Later that day, she listens in the therapy session of the mysterious woman who discusses meeting Marion and says how she fears that she will end up that sad and full of regret. She says that at lunch a very upsetting thing happened. We then see that Marion had spied through a door at the restaurant and seen her husband Ken having an intimate lunch with a female friend, Lydia. Their body language makes it obvious that that the seemingly dispassionate Ken is having an affair with Lydia.
She confronts Ken that night about his affair with Lydia and says she feels sorry for him because he’s been as lonely as she has been.
She decides to leave Ken. Having finally realized how cold her relationships have been, she decides to open up and try harder to have more meaningful relationships. She meets with her brother Paul and apologizes for her years of coldness and asks him if they can be closer. She is also hopeful about finding a new romance which will be more passionate than her two previous marriages.
She knocks on the door of the psychiatrist’s office next to her writing flat and let’s him know about the acoustical insecurity with the vent. She asks him how she can get in touch with the mysterious woman but the psychiatrist tells her she has stopped therapy and he doesn’t know what has become of her.
Marion picks up her old lover Larry’s novel, which is rumored to have a character based on Marion named Helanka. As she reads, she remembers her brief affair with Larry that closely mirrors his novel. She comes to realize that she had had a chance at passion but had rejected it. She closes the book, feeling a “strange mixture of wistfulness and hope”. By the end of the film, Marion resolves to change her life for the better. She ends with: “For the first time in a long time I felt at peace”.
- Gena Rowlands... Marion Post
- Ian Holm... Ken
- Mia Farrow... Hope
- Blythe Danner... Lydia
- Betty Buckley... Kathy
- John Houseman... Marion's Father
- Sandy Dennis... Claire
- Frances Conroy... Lynn
- Philip Bosco... Sam
- Martha Plimpton... Laura
- Harris Yulin... Paul
- Gene Hackman... Larry Lewis
- David Ogden Stiers... Young Marion's Father
This film borrows heavily from the films of Allen's idol, Ingmar Bergman, particularly Wild Strawberries, where the main character is an elderly professor who learns from a close relative that his family hates him. Allen also recreates some of the dream sequences from Wild Strawberries, and puts Marion Post into a similar situation as Isak Borg, where both characters reexamine their life after friends and family accuse them of being cold and unfeeling. This film has many of Allen's signature features, particularly the New York City stamp of the film, only a few scenes are shot outside the city, in the Hamptons. It also uses classical music- Gymnopedie No. 3 by Erik Satie, and poetry- Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rainer Maria Rilke, to serve its narrative, as earlier and later films such as Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Husbands and Wives. It also focuses primarily on upper middle class intellectuals, as nearly all of Allen's 1980s films do.