thatcow

A woman of her times

An Unmarried Woman is a film that ought be watched with a recognition of the time in which it was made. In the late seventies, the rising divorce rate was shocking the nation, and of course the movies began to reflect that, also resulting in the acclaimed Kramer vs. Kramer a year after this film.

Jill Clayburgh's acting career is pretty much known for her performance here. As Erica, just dumped by her husband of nearly twenty years for a younger woman, she has to deal with everyone's attitudes toward her new status. Thirty years later, some of these situations seem a bit routine and overblown, but they are treated with a sincerity that rings true. The thing about Erica that really works, is her habit of cutting through people's words to find what's behind them.

We meet various characters in Erica's life, from her soon-to-be ex-husband, her daughter Patti, her therapist, her friends, and those she goes to bed with as she tries to figure out her life (I'd say lovers, except in the movie... well, just see it yourself). Not all the characters are given full dimensions, and seem to exist mainly to illustrate particular points, but those we keep seeing are fleshed out pretty well, particularly the daughter, who has some of the best lines.

I rather wish I'd find An Unmarried Woman playing on something other than We (Women's Entertainment) - a channel that does content editing. I can fill out some of words that are muted out, but it's distracting, and I wonder what I've missed that's been cut.

The cinematography leaves a little to be desired, mostly safe choices keep everything in frame. The few more daring choices tend to call attention to themselves. The camerawork is supposed to support the story, but mainly it stays out of the way, which works to a degree for what is, by nature, a very talky story, but so much more could have been done here, even still being relatively unobtrusive way. If the material weren't a little dated, it would be interesting to see a remake with some modern production values.

An Unmarried Woman is mostly relevant in a historical context, but it's still interesting in what is being illustrated. What was once a relevant piece of pop culture has been slowly becoming a footnote, which is too bad.

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