Tempest (1982)

Extremely good natured. Much of the photography consists of aesthetically pleasing extreme long shots of landscapes. Susan Sarandon and Molly Ringwald are both quite attractive in it and the acting, while sometimes corny, isn’t so one-dimensional or poorly conceived as to disprove the notion of “human progress”.

What’s most interesting is the superficial similarities to Cassavetes’ own Love Streams, which was released in 1985. Both are films about coming to terms with aging, the breakdown of and longing for family, and both feature Cassavetes’ and Rowlands’ characters as their emotional and thematic core. Also more strikingly is the violent storm which forms the films’ climactic sequence, which I can’t help but think Cassavetes had at least in mind at least partially when he appended the almost biblical thunderstorm to the end of Love Streams. However, the differences between the two films are vast and very telling.

In Tempest, when the protagonist Philip becomes emotionally isolated from all other characters, an island unto himself, he literally goes and secludes himself on an island. Robert Harmon in Love Streams is depicted as being this way through his interactions with the various women that come through his house. When Harmon scolds his child, the child is emotionally distraught and Harmon tries in some kind of half-baked and unfelt way to connect to him, while when Philip does this, its forgotten and his child’s feelings are never taken into much account. Both have lots of reaction shots from animals, but even when dealing with non-human actors Cassavetes gets the upper-hand. When the storm happens at the end of Tempest, it brings together the family unit; in Love Streams it simply leaves Harmon alone waving eerily through his window in a raincoat surrounded by animals-the mood is portentous and when you see it it’s as though Cassavetes is waving from beyond the grave. No moment of such intensity exists in Tempest.

Also, Mazursky tries to get Cassavetes to pull off a Woody Allen style upper-middle class urban neurotic in some scenes, which I don’t even think I need to say fails epically.

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