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Minnie & Moskowitz

Posted by martinteller on February 20, 2014

Seymour Moskowitz (Seymour Cassel) has no ambition, just a wild, impulsive streak and a romantic — in its own way — outlook on life.  He ditches his job parking cars in New York and takes up a job parking cars in Los Angeles.  Museum curator Minnie Moore (Gena Rowlands) has just fallen out of an abusive relationship with a married man (John Cassavetes).  She reluctantly goes on a blind date with a pushy jerk (Val Avery) at the restaurant where Seymour works.  Seymour rescues Gena from a bad situation, and over the next few days pursues her with a consuming, and sometimes violent, passion.

I kind of hate myself for not liking this movie more.  I’ve had mixed experiences with Cassavetes before, but with Rowlands and Cassel on board, this should have been a can’t lose scenario.  And there’s a lot to like about it.  Rowlands is fantastic (as expected), vulnerable but also brassy when she needs to be.  Really, I just love listening to her talk so much that I don’t know if I could ever dislike her.  And Cassel, though we’ll get to him more later, does have some incredibly charming moments.  If nothing else, it’s a difficult performance to pull off.  There’s also a terrific cameo by the great, insane Tim Carey, and Cassavetes’s mother Katherine is a hoot.  And the film itself is something to be admired, tearing down everything we know about romance in the movies (and using Casablanca for contrast) to create a unique new form of romcom.

But I groaned through a lot of this.  When taken strictly as comedy, it seems to work.  But I hated this “romance”, no matter how tongue-in-cheek or ironic it’s meant to be.  I simply did not want to see Minnie get involved with Moskowitz.  All the charming moments in the world can’t make up for constant shouting, his incoherent “insights”, and his violent tendencies.  He’s exhausting and more than a little frightening.  Watching him push Minnie around, or go driving off in a pouty huff, or scream in her ear for the billionth time… it’s unpleasant.  It’s tiresome.  I get that Cassavetes is both exploring the uglier side of romance and skewering conventions, but that doesn’t change the fact that the movie just flat-out rubbed me the wrong way.  You could throw A Woman Under the Influence back in my face and ask me what’s the difference and I’d have to give it a long, hard think.  But I find that a much more insightful, believable, honest, rewarding look at chaotic relationships than this.

Although daring and different and sometimes really funny, I have to say the Moskowitz character just ruined this experience for me.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more a year ago, when I was in a turbulent relationship myself.  And this is purely incidental, but after seeing I Married a Witch recently, I had no desire to hear “I Love You Truly” ever again, much less three times.  Rating: Poor (57)


One Response to “Minnie & Moskowitz”

  1. Gabriel said

    This one I think captured New Hollywood style realness with classic boy meets girl screwball comedy. The hurried wrap-up at the end does not mesh with the evenly paced, though chaotic, courtship. Besides that, all actors gave excellent performances (with special mention to Katharine Cassavetes; if her part had been more developed I’m sure she would have received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination).

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