Girlfriends (1978)

Girlfriends (1978)

“You don’t know me at all anymore; you really don’t.”

An aspiring photographer (Melanie Mayron) struggles to create a new life for herself when her long-time roommate and best friend (Anita Skinner) gets married.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Character Studies
  • Eli Wallach Films
  • Feminism and Women’s Issues
  • Friendship
  • Photographers

Writer/director Claudia Weill’s indie debut film, while presenting a refreshing female perspective in 1970s cinema, is unfortunately not all that memorable. Despite her best efforts, Mayron’s critically-lauded central performance is hampered by Weill’s overly simplistic screenplay, which fails to authentically develop any of its several storylines.

Mayron’s new relationship with a young professor (Christopher Guest), for instance, simply follows the predictable arc of giddy new romance souring over time (though I do like the discomfiting authenticity of the early scene in which they first meet at a party and go home together, only to part ways for months before meeting up again).

Meanwhile, Mayron’s attempts to “make it” as an artist/photographer are laughably unrealistic: her repeated assertions that she’ll no longer need to take on jobs as a photographer-for-hire at bat bitzvahs and weddings once she’s lucked into showing her work at a small gallery simply make her come across as an utter moron. (And it’s frustrating that we never really see evidence of her talents as a photographer; her compositions are fine, but not earth-shattering). Finally, the sudden dissolution of her friendship with Skinner — ostensibly the main focus of the film, per its title — comes so quickly that we’re not yet invested in their fates.

Note: Watch for Eli Wallach in a small role as the rabbi Mayron develops a crush on.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A heartfelt look at feminist concerns in 1970s New York

Must See?
No, though it’s worth checking out. Listed as a Sleeper and a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Girlfriends (1978)

  1. First viewing. Not-must see, and in agreement with what’s written here about it.

    There’s a lot of touchy-feely stuff but not a whole lot of actual movie. Since this is a character study, it would be nice if there were more interesting characters to study. Even though there’s a nice, brief moment here and there, there’s a little too much pointless kvetching and whining (at least for me, personally).

    Mayron would come off to better advantage in ‘Missing’ (1982). It’s kind of nice seeing Christopher Guest prior to ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ (1984).

    NOTE: There is a brief brush with gay content when a hitchhiker (Amy Wright) who moves in with Mayron for a short time comes onto her (and is rebuffed).

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