Sunday, November 7, 2010
An Unmarried Woman (1978)
One of my favorite actors, the wonderful actress Jill Clayburgh, just passed away at age 66. She is best known for her Oscar nominated role in Paul Mazursky's insightful 1978 Romantic Drama, An Unmarried Woman. My favorite film of that year.
If you haven't seen this film you must. For me it's the epitome of great 70's filmmaking. This is a picture about people with problems you can relate to. It's honest to the bone and it's very entertaining all the same. Mazursky has always been a great director of actors and extracting incisive moments from them and out of the film, and this picture captures that with a boldness and wit you don't see in films anymore. This is a movie where the filmmaker is unafraid to use a giant canvas as a metaphor for someones life.
An Unmarried Woman is also one of the great films about New York. The locations aren't the usual places you see in films about this city, but the backdrop this picture and it's story has to tell is a kind that acts like a character in itself. When our hero has to find her place in the world after suddenly having to change a life she so long built up for herself, what better place to stage that struggle.
And then there's Jill. She didn't win the Oscar that year (Jane Fonda picked it up for Coming Home) but she still will win your heart. It's the kind of strong, relatable role most actresses would kill to have, but so rarely ever get a chance to get a crack at in their lifetime. For me Clayburgh's performance is one of such raw emotion and depth that even some of the best actors of our current time might not be able to play. She really puts herself out there. Cannes bestowed her the honor of best actress for this film in 1978. They really got it. And so will you once you give the film a chance.
Rest in peace Jill. You will be missed.
Available on DVD