Interiors (1978)

Interiors is infamous for being a severe left turn into Bergman-esque chamber-drama for Woody Allen following the widely acclaimed Annie Hall the year before. It’s the first movie he directed he doesn’t act in, is wholly serious, thematically heavy and shot by Gordon Willis through an Autumnal shade that renders everything in browns and shadow. It’s an audacious artistic gambit, and while many rejected it upon release (many didn’t, it was nominated for five oscars) it proved to be an essential move that smashed through a glass ceiling, freeing Allen up to mine this kind of dramatic territory with more complexity moving forward.

The cast is great across the board, it’s a film dominated by the faces of the actresses and every close-up aches with emotional history, as is the overall mood and texture. It’s a film fraught with emotion, deeply concerned with family tensions, unspoken hostilities and often unfolds in cloaked scenes of privacy and intimacy. The Gordon Willis/Woody Allen collaboration is one of my favourites between a director and photographer. You can see how Willis enhanced the material and forced Allen to consider new styles of lighting, composition and coverage. The alchemy created in this run of movies really is quite special, and mightily unusual, especially in the comedies. As for Interiors, the freeform experimentation of Annie Hall solidifies here into something far more painterly and rich. It’s one of the few Allen movies I hadn’t seen before but it has immediately become a favourite in an already-cluttered list.

Watched on Arrow Academy blu-ray.

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