|GIRLFRIENDS (director: Claudia Weill; screenwriters: story by Vicki Polon & Claudia Weill/Vicki Polon; cinematographer: Fred Murphy; editor: Suzanne Pettit; music: Michael Small; cast: Melanie Mayron (Susan Weinblatt), Eli Wallach (Rabbi Gold), Anita Skinner (Anne Munroe), Amy Wright (Ceil), Bob Balaban (Martin), Christopher Guest (Eric), Viveca Lindfors (Beatrice), Adam Cohen (Bar Mitvah Boy); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Claudia Weill, Jan Sanders; Warner Bros.; 1978)|
by Dennis Schwartz
documentary film-maker Claudia Weill’s ("Once
a Hero"/"Face of a Stranger"/"A Child Lost Forever")
unpretentious and technically adept first
feature, supposedly a landmark in feminist and
indie filmmaking. The small film is thinly written
by Vicki Polon as played out in episodes. It tells
about a friendship between long-time roommates in
their twenties. Susan Weinblatt (Melanie
Mayron) is an overweight Jewish
liberated aspiring photographer, with unrealistic
hopes to make it at a Soho gallery showing. In the
meantime she is shooting photos of weddings and
Bar Mitzvahs to pay the bills. In some episodes
the vulnerable Susan is shown in an awkward new
relationship with a young
professor (Christopher Guest) she meets at a
party and after a one-night stand splits with
him. But they awkwardly get together again a
few months later for another go at it. We also
observe Susan flirting with the much older
married Rabbi Gold--an excellent Eli Wallach, in a
cameo. The rabbi is the friend who gets Susan work
at Jewish affairs.
Meanwhile her amateur poetry writing shiksa long-time roommate, Anne Munroe (Anita Skinner), is deserting her to get married to Martin (Bob Balaban). This leaves the insecure Susan crushed, wondering if she can get by without Anne's support. Susan's friendship with Anne is not the same after the marriage.
Viveca Lindfors plays the owner of a Greenwich Village gallery who believes in Susan and gives her a chance to exhibit.
The fem tale, laying out a simplistic story written by Weill and Polon, comes to the square conclusion that marriage and career don't go together for females. Not exactly a radical position. But it's a warm film showing support for single women who are making the NYC scene and are fragile.
REVIEWED ON 12/23/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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