Projections - Movie Reviews

An Unmarried Woman

Jill Clayburg becomes An Unmarried Woman when her husband of eighteen years leaves her for another woman.  The transition in her life and her survival of divorce are the substance of this very fine film.  It is Clayburg's best performance to date.  She imparts her plight and gains audience sympathy and support immediately.

There are moments of fun, companionship, love, passion and fear all very capably expressed by Mrs. Clayburg.  She plays her role so convincingly the viewer becomes fully involved in her life and totally sympathetic toward her.

How she deals with her daughter, her friends and how to accept men again are problems she faces.  One has a tendency to compare The Unmarried Woman to Scenes From a Marriage.  They are similar and different. Unmarried Woman is less dramatic, perhaps more real.  There is support for Mrs. Clayburg, she has friends to share her pain and confusion.  One friend has experienced a divorce.  She is bitter and mistrustful of men, which prohibits any true relationship between her and her male companions.  Mrs. Clayburg is not willing to accept that kind of relationship.

She begins the film happy and secure; and falls into deep depression, is fearful and lonely; but in the later part of the film she begins to grow into a competent independent woman.

Director Paul Mazursky is frank in his guidance of Mrs. Clayburg's need for and repulsion from sex.  Her need for love and affection is inhibited by her apprehension toward intimacy with men.  Her first post separation sexual encounter is planned and contrived.  She chooses a poor partner (insensitive) but the experience clears her mind and she knows she can enjoy being with a man again.  The direction of this very sensitive scene with Mrs. Clayburg's selfish partner is very convincing and believable.

Mrs. Clayburg's strength grows on the screen as the film progresses.  She chooses her next lover more carefully and retains him at film's end, but only on her terms.  She has become a strong person in control of her destiny.

The audience will find itself on her side and satisfied with the non-fairy tale, realistic ending.  In a very strong, well-acted film only the character of Mrs. Clayburg's psychic is poorly cast.  She appears silly.

The film, however, is worth seeing.  It is rated R because there is some nudity.

An Unmarried Woman

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