“I married you because I wanted to mold you!”
A nihilistic apathist (Elliott Gould) in New York is courted by a headstrong optimist (Marcia Rodd) who hopes to change his outlook on life, but their marriage is weirdly interrupted by a series of random murders.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alan Arkin Films
- Black Comedy
- Donald Sutherland Films
- Elliott Gould Films
- New York City
- Play Adaptation
Alan Arkin directed and Elliott Gould co-produced this adaptation of writer-cartoonist Jules Feiffer‘s semi-autobiographical play, which isn’t for all tastes. As Roger Ebert noted in his original review, it’s “a very New York kind of movie, paranoid, masochistic and nervous”, leaving you to wonder what type of trouble might be lurking around the next corner. To a certain extent, I can appreciate where Feiffer is coming from with his passively nihilistic perspective, in which emotions are a liability given the unpredictability of life — but the overall effect of the random-violence-ridden story is one of numbness and discomfiture, and for a satire, it offers relatively few outright laughs. The performances by all the actors involved (see stills below) are the main reason to check out this unusual but alienating film; they’re remarkably game players.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Elliott Gould as Alfred
- Marcia Rodd as Patricia
- Elizabeth Wilson as Mrs. Newquist
- Vincent Gardenia as Mr. Newquist
- Donald Sutherland as “The Minister”
- Alfred trying in vain to interview his detached parents (Doris Roberts and John Randolph) about his childhood
No, but it’s worth a look simply for the performances.