A mismatched marriage between wealthy exec and his trophy wife

Cassavetes really hit his stride with his second film, Faces.

It’s a film largely told via tight, claustrophobic close-ups – and from its grainy lighting and tinny sound to the abrupt crash-cuts and subject matter, one that’s intentionally harsh and uncomfortable.

Its theme – the booze-drenched, mismatched marriage between wealthy exec Richard (John Marley) and trophy wife Maria (Lynn Carlin) – may seem resolutely of its time.

But its subtext is sound, its characters’ wants and needs constantly undermined by their facades and inability to express themselves.

“Nobody has the time to be vulnerable to each other,” Richard ultimately recognises. “So we just go on.”

It’s also a portrait of the Martinis-for-breakfast era portrayed in the films of Douglas Sirk that was on the cusp of passing the baton to the Free Love generation, for good or ill.

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