John Cassavetes’s gale-force, exposed-nerve psychodrama plunges headlong into the art and mysteries of acting. In one of her finest whirlwind, woman-under-the-influence performances, Gena Rowlands plays an aging stage star in the midst of preparing for a new role whose sense of self begins to crumble after she witnesses the car-accident death of an obsessive fan. Scrambling the boundaries between art and life, rehearsals and reality, Cassavetes leads his fearless band of actors into ever more vulnerable and startling realms of emotional honesty. Opening Night attracted little attention upon its U.S. release (save for Cassavetes’s most devoted followers), opening in December 1977 to poor box-office and tepid reviews. Months later it had its international debut at the 1978 Berlinale, where the filmmaker received a nomination for the Golden Bear and Rowlands won best actress. An NYFF26 Main Slate selection.
I’ve always admired John Cassavetes’ ability to blend the dynamics of daily life, work, and fiction. He ‘lived’ cinema. His relationship with Gena Rowlands produces a grand love diary. My favorites of his are Opening Night and Love Streams. —Apichatpong Weerasethakul