Love Streams

Love Streams

DVD - 2014
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Two closely bound, emotionally wounded siblings reunite after years apart.

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m
Maoisdead
Oct 10, 2017

John Cassavetes's career of risk taking comes to a climax in this rich, original, emotionally magnificent 1984 film.

t
TheSandoz
Apr 06, 2017

Along with A Woman Under the Influence, Love Streams is one of Cassavetes' best films. Both Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes are outstanding in their roles as a frazzled, partially-unhinged divorceé and as a free-thinking, oblivious, and impulsive alcoholic. Cassavetes makes an equally greasy and charming 'Robert', while Rowlands makes a very vulnerable 'Sarah', a character the viewer may feel for and empathize with due to her desperate situation. In this film they play a pair of siblings a bit too self-absorbed with their own problems to have a real, meaningful relationship. However, little by little, both make more of an effort to connect, understand, and support each other.

l
lukasevansherman
Jun 21, 2016

"Love is a stream--it's continuous."
John Cassavetes only made 12 films (some of which he disowned), but his unwavering vision, DIY aesthetic, and belief that films should be personal make him something of the godfather of the indie film movement. His films, which include "Shadows," "Faces," and "A Woman Under the Influence," are raw, intense, and often uncomfortable to watch, as his characters often live close to the edge. "Love Streams" is his last real film, starring his wife and creative partner Gena Rowlands and Cassavetes as damaged siblings. Like much Cassavetes it's low on plot, but high on emotions and unpleasant situations. Cassavetes' character takes his son whom he hasn't seen in years to Las Vegas and then ditches him in a hotel room, while Rowland's character desperately tries to win back her daughter, who is living with her ex-husband (Cassevetes regular Seymour Cassel). I've never been convinced of Cassavetes genius, even as I admire his films and his influence. It takes a decidedly bizarre turn in the final act. See it and decide for yourself. There's a deluxe box set that is maybe a better starting point if you haven't seen any of his films. The always excellent Criterion collect presents the film in a 2-disc special edition, which includes a revealing documentary shot during the making of the film, in which Cassaevets shows disdain for films that are entertaining, nice, fluffy. The other piece of interest is an appreciation of Gena Rowlands. Their kids Nick and Zoe are also directors.

j
jerfairall
Jan 04, 2015

I've undoubtedly had my expectations inflated by the years of the film's inaccessibility and its status as the last real Cassavetes film, going into this unable to accept anything less than an flat-out masterpiece. The shift towards surrealism in the final act were startling, to say the least, but I'm not sure how successful they are--Rowlands's joke-shop pranks on her family are every bit as hilarious/sad/unhinged as her on-stage breakdown from OPENING NIGHT, but the ballet sequence feels like a bit of an overreach, and the dog/man bit towards the very end (an in-joke stemming from the director's staging of the source play, the Criterion essay informs) is a bit of Bunelian whimsy that doesn't quite work. Other attempts at symbolism are outright ham fisted--Rowlands literally travelling around with too much baggage feels like a rookie's touch, not a veteran's. I also thought Cassavetes offering his eight-year-old son a beer put too fine a point on the scuzziness of the character; his later abandonment of the child in a Vegas hotel room felt more like something the character would do (negligence, rather than willful corruption).

There's still a lot that's great here, though: I think Rowlands was supported by stronger scripts in both A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE and OPENING NIGHT, but no one ever offered her better roles than her husband (MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ needs to become available next), and any moment she's on screen here is captivating. The minor character of the lounge singer's mother was a nice touch; I don't know that Cassavetes's work was intended as a diagnosis own generation as broken and rudderless, but the occasional inability of his characters to comprehend the ambitions and responsibilities of of the younger generation emerges as a subtle thread (see also, FACES). The presence of children in the film--one unwanted by his parent, another rejecting the emotional neediness of hers--probably alludes to enough of a backstory for the two main characters that we don't need the script to fill in the details of how they got to where they are.

Truthfully, the film is looking better and better the more that I think about it...

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