movie: a woman under the influence

Lynne Ramsay on the John Cassavetes film, A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

“All his films show a real understanding of the human condition…It’s difficult to talk about influences, but when I saw the film I definitely thought the way he explored character was something I was interested in, too. There was a real risk that Mabel (played by Gena Rowlands) would just seem plain insane. But I never felt that; she was so three-dimensional.

In modern cinema, everything’s often so plot-driven around stereotypes like the cute kid and the good guy, everything’s so bland and homogeneous. But this film was completely inspiring. These two people are flawed and miscommunicating, but there’s still love there.”


“This particular woman isn’t really mad but frustrated beyond imagination. She doesn’t know what to do and she is socially and emotionally inept. Everything she does is an expression of her individuality, but she doesn’t know how to interact with others. She’s like me in this respect. Yet it is only by interacting, by engaging in some sort of competition with others, that she feels alive.” – John Cassavetes on A Woman Under the Influence (1974).

“I was a woman with a plan. I knew the only thing, that could really stopped me, in my opinion, was to fall in love.

I went in, at lunch, to put my books in the locker and I got to the doorway and … I saw John Cassavetes, and I thought : oh, oh damn! No, no, no. No!

That’s just exactly what I don’t want.”

Gena Rowlands on her first meeting with John Cassavetes 


“I knew many girls who had had breakdowns. I drew little touches from each of them and a lot from myself. I don’t mean I’m really going mad, but I’m a little crazy - we all are - and sometimes I let things go.”

Gena Rowlands on her spellbinding role in A Woman Under the Influence,1974 Dir. by John Cassavetes