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Husbands Criterion Blu-ray Review

Husbands

“Husbands” is not a top tier John Cassavetes film.

After losing a friend, New Yorkers Gus, Harry and Archie find themselves feeling lost in life. Not only are they faced with their own mortality, but they struggle to emotionally deal with life without their friend. The majority of the film finds them skirting responsibilities and neglecting their own families by messing around town, playing basketball, drinking heavily, traveling to London, and so on.

I can’t begin to guess what indie pioneer John Cassavetes was intending with the characters in 1970’s “Husbands,” but if he was making a comment on American male toxicity, he was certainly years ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, that’s also the main issue with this meandering film as a whole- these unpleasant characters make for an unpleasant watch.

Clocking in at an ungodly 142 minutes, “Husbands” is the definition of a movie that overstays its welcome. For the entirety, we (the audience) have to endure long, drawn out shenanigans of three very wretched, immature American jackasses horsing around NY and London while seemingly in denial of the fact that their lives are already laid out in front of them (with their careers and families) and that the glory days of their youth is behind them. “Husbands” does not have a traditional structure or indeed a storytelling style, but rather a freewheeling, naturalistic approach that director John Cassavetes was known for. While it does give the film a sense of realism, the lack of plot can feel a bit empty (especially in the case of “Husbands”). Yes, this is largely a character centric film built around a series of events, but it’s missing something more. It doesn’t help that certain scenes (namely the drinking and singing sequence) tend to go on far longer than they need to. 

Even though you may not want to spend time with these miserable characters, there’s no denying that John Cassavetes, Peter Falk and Ben Gazara have chemistry together. They way they interact, talk over one another, and so forth, you really do feel like these men are friends that have known each for ages (which may have been true in reality as well). 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration maintains the DIY aesthetic of the work of Cassavetes while also offering up an impressive print.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? It sounds like a Mono track. The most audio intensive scene involves repulsive vomiting. Make of that as you will.

Extras:
* “Husbands” trailer
* A booklet with credits, photos and an essay by director Andrew Bujalski
* A 1970 episode of “The Dick Cavett Show” with Peter Falk, John Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara.
* A newly shot 25 minute interview with producer Al Ruban about his experiences in working on “Husbands” and his thoughts on the film.
* A new 18 minute interview with actress Jenny Runactre who played Mary who talks about her career, Cassavetes, etc.
* “John Cassavetes On Acting”- A new video essay by Daniel Raim which contains audio recordings of Cassavetes himself
* “The Story Of Husbands- A Tribute To John Cassavetes”- A 2008 extra in which Ben Gazarra, cinematographer Victor J. Kemper, and producer Al Ruban talk about Cassavetes and the production of “Husbands.”
* An informative 2009 commentary by Cassavetes biographer and film critic Marshall Fine.

May 31, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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