Directed by John Cassavetes
Two closely-bound, emotionally wounded siblings reunite after years apart.
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★★★★★ review by David Jenkins on Letterboxd
One of the pleasures of watching a movie for me is taking leave of time. By that I simply mean not wearing a watch. And making sure to always switch off (off!) my mobile phone. It means that when you're watching the film, you have to feel how much time has passed and how much time remains. When attempting to make that calculation is too easy, and when you're right about it, you know you have a bad movie. I genuinely believe that a key barometer of quality filmmaking is when, temporally speaking, you don't know where you are. I think it might relate to that cliché when people talk about "losing yourself" in a movie. Anyway, I was watching Love Streams (first viewing), and I am transfixed by this movie, really into it. And some stuff is happening, and there's a short, quiet beat and I'm thinking to myself, right, this thing is two hours twenty, I'm guessing we've got about 45 minutes still to play. And then at that very moment, as the thought was processed in my mind, the film ends. And it was wonderful.
★★★★½ review by matt lynch on Letterboxd
not just the bottomless need for love but the inexhaustible compulsion to express it, to find an outlet for it, to enact it.
★★★★ review by Edgar Cochran on Letterboxd
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
I haven't inquired on whether the title was intentionally a play on words, but the word "streams" can be read both as a plural noun and as a verb. Contemplating the axyomatic need of human love every single person has as a social being, and being love the factor that both self-destructive protagonists have faced because of some factors that are under their control because of mere consequence of their past actions and some of them not being under it because of their psychological background, the title works in both ways. My initial quotation was written approximately in the year of 700 B.C. (at the earliest), signaling that family has always been under a grave lack of emotional and proper stability since the dawn of civilization, with children having incorrect male and female authority figures and fractured matrimonies with secondary couples and asphyxiating, self-destructive vices.
The man here, in what is artistically considered his swan song even if it is not his factual one (I agree with the former claim as he never considered to direct projects that were not written by himself), does not ask for empathy, but invites to reflection about the structure of the family. The low lives are just excuses for showcasing a possibility of what could be consequences of our actions. Rowlands, in another powerhouse performance and officially the man's cinema queen, plays the female role of a society outcast that deserves more love and comprehension and empathy more than judging and condemnation, but none of the characters here, even the youngest ones being involved in absurd "adult" matters beyond their innocent comprehension of evil, should be considered as exceptions.
It is a strange mix of drama with stark comedy that becomes ultimately depressing, but also openly honest, stating (this is my take) that a life based on unfulfilled dreams and fantasies, either utopian or psychopathic, is a living nightmare and is not the way to live. Analyze, hence, how the cacophonies of the phrases uttered throughout the film contrast each other in what is the director's final sermons about his life philosophy. The final twenty minutes of the film are spellbinding.
"Love is a stream. It's continuous, it doesn't stop."
"Love doesn't stop." vs "It does stop."
"Life is a series of suicides, divorces, promises broken, children smashed..."
"Would love be considered an art? Well, some people think so." immediately closing that questioning with the phrase: "I love you.". The response? "I love you too."
Nothing better than 1 Corinthians 13 to properly describe love in all of its emotional and spiritual facets that transcend even the physical.
Random trivia: Did you know that people living a healthy relationship with animals, such as dogs, live longer? Their cardiac systems work more properly and there is a chance 30% lower of having a heart attack, among other benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. God is wise in His creation and how it interacts with man, so I applaud the not-so-random inclusion of animals, who are also a manifestation of God's love to man, and the need of mankind to feel loved and love in return, since love does not ask anything in return.
★★★★ review by Ahmed Aiman on Letterboxd
My first Cassavetes, and I feel that I'm already familiar with his style!
From the expressionistic framing, and fancy camera angles to memorable use of music, and multilayered audiovisual imagery, it's not hard at all to tell that John Cassavetes has a major influence on Paul Thomas Anderson's cinematic style and filming techniques.
Almost every single frame keeps pushing the story forward, and adds something new while somehow develops the characters in it.
The camera movements and the transitions, whether between a scene to another or in the scene itself, can reveal something that change your perspective on how you introduced to the sequence for the first time. But all these things happen both brilliantly quickly so they have a great subliminal impact on the viewer, and also that make them far from being flashy and ostentatious as they usually seem.
That said, there are also many things concern Cassavetes's directing style that seemed fresh to me. The thing that I was impressed with the most is how he keeps the tone so dark and serious despite how strange and bizarre the characters are, and how lunatic and bonkers their actions seem. Unlike, PTA who is often lets the whimsical behavior of the his characters give a quirky touch to the movie, there is nothing funny or comical about Cassavetes's characters' weird doings and wacky sudden reactions!
As an actor, Cassavetes gave a commanding performance as the pleasure-seeking writer Robert Harmon, although I wasn't invested in his character, and his story, not even a tiny bit! What makes the things worse is that the movie focuses on Robert Harmon's life for most of its runtime. Actually, the second act is almost only about him, and I was lost for the most part. On the other hand, I found Sarah Lawson's story quite interesting. Adding to that, Gena Rowlands mesmerized me with her soulful and moving performance. I feel so ashamed of myself because this is the first movie I watch for her. I really can't wait to watch A Woman Under the Influence, another Cassavetes's film that Rowlands arguably gave in the best performance in her career, nay one of the best performances by an actress in a leading role ever!
The third act is by far the best part of the movie. The visual and allegorical imagery in it is one of the best I've seen in film. Some scenes reminded me of Lynch, but of course they are not this disturbing! The allegories used in this act are so subtle and genius, yet so easy to be understood, and can directly make you related to the characters, feel their emotions, and think of what they are thinking about, and that's definitely a proof that the main characters are well-rounded and established so well throughout the movie. That being said, there are some exposition to make the allegories more clear, which I found completely unnecessary as long as I already understand what's displayed on screen.
★★★★½ review by EnteredTheVoid on Letterboxd
I dont know who was better, Cassavetes or Rowlands? I mean Rowlands is always glorious but Cassavetes was just as good, both playing damaged souls like it was nothing. And then you have the directing, so I'm gonna give it to Cassavetes, one great performance infront of the camera and behind it.
Love hurts. Love stinks. Love Streams.
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