Director: Woody Allen

81 minutes| U.S.A.| 1988| Colour| 35mm

Erik Satie once remarked: ‘They said, ‘You’ll see when you’re 50′. I am 50 and I haven’t seen a thing.’ How fitting that Satie’s music introduces this marvellous film, which is exactly on this theme. Working on a new book in a rented New York office, a middle-aged philosophy professor (Gena Rowlands) discovers she can overhear conversations taking place in the psychiatrist’s room below. Her attention is particularly caught by the voice of a woman (Mia Farrow) whose life seems ‘not real . . . full of deceptions’ and she senses unwelcome similarities with herself.

A meticulous character study, the film has a fascinating modernist structure where the real world often dissolves into a domain of treacherous memory. Gena Rowlands gives perhaps the finest performance in Allen’s entire output: not a single nuance of an intelligent, judgmental, repressed character escapes her notice. Sensitive support from Gene Hackman, Ian Holm and Sandy Dennis enhances a moving, underrated movie.

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