She’s So Lovely
The screenplay is by John Cassavetes. The direction is a neutral accommodation, providing an unmistakable clarity, and the result is a film that easily stands with Losey’s La Truite as a masterpiece.
Major Amberson’s monologue is the key to Eddie’s mental breakdown as written. The romantic misadventure that precipitates it has a surface of Police Gazette banality, an undercurrent of Biblical imagery, and an overall tenor of city life. Eddie’s wife is newly pregnant and alone in their tenement apartment. A solicitous neighbor eventually buys her drinks, their hilarity goes bad in his apartment, she breaks a bottle over his head and he bruises her face.
Eddie finally turns up at the bar, he and his wife go out dancing, and her story is that she slipped and fell in the rain. The truth is made evident to Eddie, who leaves the apartment with a pistol, and winds up in an insane asylum.
Part one thus ends with the extremes of lust and love. Part two begins a decade later with Eddie’s release. His wife Maureen is married to a successful builder, they have two daughters of their own and Eddie’s daughter as well. Eddie is a changed man, very quiet and subdued, nevertheless he resolves at once to continue his marriage.
The new husband has the kids in view, but Eddie isn’t in love with them. Maureen still loves Eddie and has never concealed the fact. The resolution is very dramatic and comical, like the rest of the film.
The actors do all that can be done in the absence of the slated director, and are repaid for their efforts in moments of reflection that give them at their very best. If you compare this with a painter’s copy like Degas’ Rape of the Sabine Women meticulously copied from Poussin, you will see that the result is achieved but not with the same analysis, the gong is hit from another angle throughout, but it resonates perfectly.
Or, to put it another way, it’s directed like a translation that has to rearrange the integers slightly, but the equation comes out the same.
Love trumps lust, and it trumps the family as well. The founder of the feast has a further statement of certain themes in A Woman Under the Influence and Love Streams, and especially Gloria, and also shows (in a scene after Eddie’s release) what he derived from The Haircut.
The script is an extension of the Richard Matheson teleplay for The Twilight Zone, “Spur of the Moment”. A woman marries her true love against her parents’ objection, it’s a disaster. Rod Serling introduces the nightmare ruination, Cassavetes has a complicated flashback to WWII and the romance that ends half-a-century later with the wife and grandmother unable to remember her husband for more than five minutes at a time, even while he’s reading to her the story of their love written by herself for just such an eventuality.
The score is a splendid surge of orchestra with suspended cymbal relieved by melancholy kitten-on-the-keys, de rigueur.