Faces ★★★½

Included In Lists:
Criterion Collection - #252

Review In A Nutshell:

With ten years already removed from his debut - of which in between the director has dabbled in works within the confines of titan studios and producers (Too Late Blues & A Child Is Waiting) - John Cassavetes displays a great deal of confidence in the creation and assembly of his fourth film, Faces. Much like Shadows, an emphasis is placed onto the performances of his cast, with an observant eye on their expressions and interactions with the environment, they are the centrepiece of the entire narrative. In the process, mise en scene is placed at the back burner in order to convey a more saturated showcase of the acting. We feel the tension in the room; we see the desperation; we fear the imminent self-destruction; Cassavetes constructs scenes that sway in unpredictable ways and yet all these qualities that sit beneath are palpable all the way through. Shadows may have left me feeling underwhelmed by the incoherent manoeuvring and emphasis of its narrative, however, much of those issues are remedied here in Faces. Cassavetes envelops us in this case of improvisation and naturalism, only to realise in retrospect how much of it is assuredly constructed.