Monday, February 06, 2006

Love Streams (Home Video Version)

Cannon Films
Director: John Cassavetes
Length: 122 min.
Format: VHS
Date Viewed: 5 January

When Love Streams was released onto video in 1984, the film was cut down by eighteen minutes. It is unclear who did the cutting and why, but the feeling that one gets from this shortened version is that the longer one needs to be seen. Perhaps a DVD of the uncut version will be released in the near future, or perhaps a 35mm print will come to Seattle (a new print was created sometime late last year and played in New York), but until then, the only available version feels like it is missing some important material that may better flesh out some of the supporting characters and help explain some situations.

This is a very tough film to get into, and the ending's lapse into surrealism is frustrating and feels more than a little pretentious. It's a film that, as a whole, gets better while thinking about it after the fact as opposed to while it's actually playing.

However, the performances by director/co-writer star, John Cassavetes, and his real-life wife, Gena Rowlands, are flawless and incredibly moving, and Seymour Cassel, as always, turns in a strong supporting performance. The Vegas sequence and its violent conclusion is remarkably effective, as is the tragic dream scene where Rowlands tries desperately to win her husband and daughter's love by playing around with gag gifts.

Overall, the film is admirable, but is not a lot of fun to watch. Perhaps this film will turn out like Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie in that the original cut is far superior, and gets much, much better on a second viewing. The hope is that the theatrical cut will come this way soon.


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