OPENING NIGHT – 21 March, Curzon SOHO

USA 1977

Cassavetes’ Opening Night is one of cinema’s finest portrayals of ageing, while also being a superb exploration of acting. It has recently enjoyed renewed interest following the 2014 release of Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman, with which it has notable parallels. Gena Rowlands gives a virtuoso performance as Myrtle Gordon, a successful but increasingly neurotic actress in her forties, conflicted with her next theatrical role portraying an older woman – obviously too close to the skin. Myrtle is at the same time haunted by hallucinations of an alluring teenage female fan, a symbolic image of a younger self, whose car accident she blames herself for. As her reality starts to blur with dreams and the actress and her character begin to merge dangerously, Myrtle reveals some profoundly uncomfortable truths about ‘the gradual lessening of [her] power as a woman’ (as one character puts it) in the public eye.

USA 1977. Dir. John Cassavetes. With Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara. Costumes Alexandra Corwin-Hankin.