By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Psychiatrist secretly films people.
Rip Torn plays a psychiatrist living in a Manhattan apartment who has a camera secretly film everything that goes on there. Many of his female patients including Joann (Sally Kirkland) talk about their intimate desires and his ex-wife Monica (Viveca Lindfors) shares her darkest secrets thinking he is the only one hearing it, but instead a glass box resembling an antique camera sits in the living room and takes it all down.
The film’s concept is novel and if executed in a slightly better manner could’ve been brilliant. Without a doubt it breaks all the old filmmaking conventions and was year’s ahead-of-its-time. The sexual openness of its characters and tawdry subject matter make it quite voyeuristic and real. The actors have an amazingly natural quality to their delivery giving one the idea that it was ad-libbed when in actuality it wasn’t.
Kirland gives an emotionally over-the-top performance that is both remarkable and riveting. Her meltdown at the end in which she proceeds in slow motion to tear up the apartment is quite memorable and the best part of the whole film.
Writer/director Milton Moses Ginsberg manages to keep things relatively fresh by continuously introducing situations that become increasingly more provocative including a party that turns into a sex orgy and explicit love making between Torn and Kirkland that could almost be considered pornographic. There’s even an interesting scene involving a young lady looking to be barely 18 coming to the apartment with her baby in a carriage and propositioning herself to Torn and then having the two make love on the floor while the baby, still in the carriage, cries next to them. There is also a segment featuring recorded phone conversations that Joe has with his fellow psychiatrists that I found to be revealing as well.
Unfortunately despite these creative efforts the film is agonizingly boring to sit through. No matter what is going on in the scene the viewer is still forced to stare at the same wall, same mirror, and same skyline for almost two-hours. The scenes needed to be broken up with cutaways that would’ve taken the viewer out of the apartment and given them some other visual element to look at. Simply turning on a camera that’s nailed to the floor and then filming whatever happens in front of it is not a movie, but more like C-Span and the ultimate result is a failed experiment lacking the necessary cinematic touches that would have made it come off as a fluid whole.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: October 26, 1969
Runtime: 1Hour 51Minutes
Director: Milton Moses Ginsberg
Studio: Kaleidoscope Films