Faces is a 1968 drama film, written and directed by John Cassavetes and starring John Marley, Cassavetes' wife Gena Rowlands, Fred Draper, Seymour Cassel and Lynn Carlin. Both Cassel and Carlin received Academy Award nominations for this film. Cassavetes was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Faces. The film was shot in high contrast 16 mm black and white film stock. In 2011, it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
The film, shot in cinéma vérité-style, depicts the final stages of the disintegrating marriage of a middle-aged couple. We are introduced to various groups and individuals the couple interacts with after the husband, Richard Forst's (John Marley), sudden statement of his desire for a divorce. Afterwards, Richard spends the night in the company of brash businessmen and prostitutes, the wife with her middle-aged female friends and an aging, free-associating playboy they've picked up at a bar. The night proceeds as a series of tense conversations and confrontations occur, illustrating where the modern American lifestyle has failed to nourish the interests, love lives, and emotional/spiritual fulfillment of these characters. Nearly everyone we meet expresses deep dissatisfaction with their lives and also a resigned attitude to this malaise. The film offers little hope, only a suggestion that in this world merely understanding that we're unhappy or dissatisfied is a revelation.
- John Marley as Richard Forst
- Gena Rowlands as Jeannie Rapp
- Lynn Carlin as Maria Forst
- Seymour Cassel as Chet
- Fred Draper as Freddie Draper
- Val Avery as Jim McCarthy
- Dorothy Gulliver as Florence
- Joanne Moore Jordan as Louise Draper
- Darlene Conley as Billy Mae
- Gene Darfler as Joe Jackson
- Elizabeth Deering as Stella
- Anne Shirley
- Christina Crawford
As is the case with several of Cassavetes' films, several different versions of this film are known to exist (though it was generally assumed that, after creating the general release print, Cassavetes destroyed the alternate versions). It was initially premiered in Toronto with a running time of 183 minutes, before Cassavetes cut it down to 130 minutes. Though the 130-minute version is the general release version, a print of a longer version with a running time of 147 minutes was accidentally found by Ray Carney, and was deposited at the Library of Congress. 17 minutes of this print was included in the Criterion box set John Cassavetes: Five Films, though Carney has said that there are numerous differences between the two films.
Faces currently holds an 88% 'Fresh' rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. In 2011, Faces was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The Registry called the film "an example of cinematic excess" whose extended confrontations revealed "emotions and relations of power between men and women that rarely emerge in more conventionally structured films". Faces, and other Cassavetes projects, had significant creative impact on Woody Allen and Robert Altman.
- List of American films of 1968
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- Ray Carney. The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
- Ray Carney. Cassavetes on Cassavetes. London: Faber and Faber, 2001.
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- Faces at Rotten Tomatoes
- Criterion Collection essay by Stuart Klawans