The following post is by Trylon volunteer and programer John Moret who is a regular contributor to All-Star Video.
The title of this film is so illuminating. It is completely innocuous and completely definitive. Men of a certain age, feeling a certain weight of responsibility.
Harry (Ben Gazzara), Archie (Peter Falk) and Gus (John Cassavetes) have just lost a good friend. In response, the three leave their families and embark on a trip of supposed self-discovery. What comes of this grief is just an escape into debauchery. The final result is grown men trying so hard and never truly being vulnerable with each other. Never honestly connecting with their wives or children, they find solace in each other. And yet, their guard never truly comes down there either.
There is a scene about a half hour into the film that beautifully captures both what this film is about and what Cassavetes is saying about men in general. Nearing the end of a night of binge drinking, all three congregate in the men’s room. Archie is lying in a stall next to a toilet and turns to Gus, “I’m gonna tell you what I feel. It’s not the sickness. It’s about anxiety… I mean, what are we supposed to be feeling?”
That deep confusion is what Cassavetes sees so well in males. Sensitive, searching and never truly allowing connection. Though Harry later tells them both that he loves them, in the next moment Gus calls Harry a fairy and they laugh it off.
Cassavetes’ characters are incredibly complicated. One minute they are lovable, gentle, and laughing. You understand and feel for them in their vulnerability. The next, they show a deep and violent rage that is repulsive.
And, so they are just like you and I; Husbands, wives, faces and shadows.
Husbands (1970) written and directed by John Cassavetes, starring Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Cassavetes screens September 20-22, Friday and Saturday 7:00 & 9:30 pm, Sunday 5:00 & 7:30 pm. Advanced tickets available at trylon.org.