Minnie and Moskowitz

(John Cassavetes, USA, 1971)


John Cassavetes (1929-1989) was an American actor, writer and director who, throughout his entire creative life, was driven by an ambivalent response to classic Hollywood cinema – particularly the films of Frank Capra. "I wish I could really express the beautiful ideas he could", Cassavetes once confessed, "without feeling perhaps that these ideas are not truthful".

Cassavetes never ceased exploring this tension between the 'beautiful dreams' inspired by Hollywood and the awful, difficult truths of contemporary human relationships. It is this aching gap between the 'real' and the 'ideal' realms that makes his greatest films (including Faces, 1968, and Love Streams, 1984) so unique and astonishing.

Minnie and Moskowitz is about romantic love, and the ideal of the 'perfect couple'. Like so many films that followed it, the story places an all-too-human 'odd couple' in the unreal light cast by Casablanca (1942) and other beloved classics. Minnie (the luminous Gena Rowlands) is a museum curator, and Moskowitz (the irrepressible Seymour Cassel from In the Soup, 1992) a parking attendant. Both are somewhat crazed loners.

Cassavetes does not shy away from the physical, social and emotional complications of this love-match. Yet Minnie and Moskowitz still affirms – in the radically open and spontaneous style that the director made his own – the miraculous possibilities of love.

MORE Cassavetes: Husbands, Too Late Blues

© Adrian Martin January 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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