“Everybody’s taking something, or they’d never make it ’til morning.”
Schoolteacher Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton) cruises New York bars at night looking for sex and excitement, and finds herself in increasingly dangerous situations.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Character Studies
- Diane Keaton Films
- Richard Brooks Films
- Richard Gere Films
- Tuesday Weld Films
Based on the real-life murder of 27-year-old schoolteacher Rosanne Quinn, this cinematic adaptation of Judith Rossner’s bestselling novel was released the same year as Woody Allen’s comedic paean to life and love in New York — Annie Hall (1977) — and features its Oscar-winning eponymous heroine (Diane Keaton) in a radically different role. As in Annie Hall and many other films of the time (i.e., Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman), Looking for Mr. Goodbar deals with single females exploring their sexuality during the heyday of women’s lib. Indeed, once she gives herself the opportunity to sleep with any and every man she sees, Theresa takes advantage of this to the nth degree — but ultimately it’s more painful than liberating to watch her encounters with a series of unbearably chauvinistic men, including her married professor (Alan Feinstein) and a jealous player (Richard Gere).
As several reviewers have pointed out (see links below), many elements of Looking for Mr. Goodbar‘s otherwise provocative screenplay are unnecessarily heavy-handed: Theresa’s conflicts with her Catholic parents come across as overbearingly Freudian, and the flashback scenes to Theresa’s traumatic childhood experiences with scoliosis are derivative. Plus, it’s distressing to watch a film in which you already know the gory outcome — the cumulative effect is one of watching a morality tale-cum-train wreck about the dangers of wanton sexual exploration. This is too bad, because Keaton’s daring performance as a woman unafraid of her own sexual cravings deserves a much more respectful treatment.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Diane Keaton as a rebellious schoolteacher living a double life
- A realistic, albeit cautionary, look at hedonism in the 1970s
Yes. While it’s not an entirely successful film, Diane Keaton’s performance makes it must-see viewing at least once.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)