Minnie and Moskowitz Review

Sitting between the uneven Husbands and the economic beauty of  A Woman Under the Influence, Minnie and Moskowitz was John Cassavetes sixth time directing a feature and like most of his work he does so with confidence and a singular vision.

Minnie (Gena Rowlands) is a museum curator, attractive and reasonably well off. Her love life isn’t too good though and after the man she is seeing, the already married Jim (John Cassavetes), cruelly dumps her in front of his son she is immediately set up on a disastrous blind date. Following this blind date debacle, a particularly amusing scene featuring Val Avery as the hapless suitor Zelmo, Minnie runs into Seymour Moskowitz.

Whilst Seymour might not seem on the surface like much of a catch, his own mother points out that “he parks cars for a living!”, he is doggedly persistent and clearly infatuated with Minnie. So begins their relationship, a relationship constantly punctuated with raw emotion and it is this often almost unbearable intensity that makes Minnie and Moskowitz a deeply affecting film. It is also one filled with humour though and Cassavetes manages to tread a delicate balance between the raw emotions and the many moments of awkward humour.
This careful balancing act would not be possible without the superb performances by the two leads and it is clear that their seemingly natural chemistry and performances are the result of painstaking absorption into their characters. In the 1984 Michael Ventura documentary I’m Almost Not Crazy, Cassavetes comments that “…only the actor will know what to do” and it is this passionate faith in his actors that allows Cassel and Rowlands to thrive in their roles, ensuring one becomes utterly absorbed in their story.

Whilst the stark approach to storytelling and the low fi look may not be to everyone’s tastes Minnie and Moskowitz is such a confidently and carefully directed film that Cassavetes manages to achieve exactly what is needed from the story throughout. A beautiful and intense film which is dramatic, funny and genuinely romantic, a prime example of why the phrase ‘romantic comedy’ does not always need to be a pejorative term.

A slightly different version of this review was originally posted at HeyUGuys.