John Cassavetes Gordon Gow - Essay

Gordon Gow

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Infinitely more calculated than Shadows, [Faces] still holds the feeling of spontaneity, of life going on unpredictably, movements unplanned, conversations disjointed and overlapping, remarks half-heard….

The characters are 'types', well-heeled Americans for whom life has gone stale with the onset of middle-age. Indigenous, perhaps: yet universal in their emotions and frustrations….

Long-winded the film may be (indeed is) but its truth is undeniable, even when it arrives at something akin to romanticism: a germ of hope to buffer the stark emptiness of the coda. [The suicide] sequence that inclines toward the romantic is still expressed in realistic terms, more stark than anything else in the movie…. (p. 35)

Faces is a work of great talent. Its flaw is merely the familiar one of the artist too close to his own work to judge best where a sequence might be curtailed to advantage: thus, in portraying boredom for example, Cassavetes is now and then in danger of being just a bit of a bore. A small flaw, in the circumstances. Preferable by far to the committee-planned movie that blinkers reality in its anxiety to hold our attention. One feels bound to note the flaw because it's there, but one forgives it whole-heartedly in a film which merges art and life to near-perfection, and which manages at one and the same time to be both critical and compassionate. (pp. 35-6)

Gordon Gow, "'Faces'" (© copyright Gordon Gow 1968; reprinted with permission), in Films and Filming, Vol. 15, No. 3, December, 1968, pp. 35-6.