Rachel, Rachel Screen 4 articles

Rachel, Rachel

1968

Rachel, Rachel Poster
  • The quotidian purgatory of New England dullness, l'amour et la mort but mainly la mort, the nervous schoolteacher takes you through it. She rises in the morning as if from a crypt and imagines herself dropping dead on the way to class, and to the very end there's Joanne Woodward offering an open face glinting with desperation and desire... So it goes in the "last ascending summer," surveyed with notable sensitivity by Paul Newman's quick and close camera.

  • Newman once said that his one direction for Woodward was “Pinch it.” She certainly appears to have run with that instruction. Her performance here is a clinic in closing oneself off while still allowing the audience to peek inside – how to emote without emoting. Despite his recollection of such modest direction, Newman himself was particularly adept at this kind of performance, too, and it’s easy to see both why he was drawn to this material and why he was able to film it so well.

  • The film tells us a story about the loss of innocence and, therefore, of the end of a world. We remain in the field of divisions. We realise where Newman wants to take us in that final dialogue between mother and daughter, which, as Michel Delahaye wrote in his review for Cahiers du cinéma (no. 214, July/August 1969, pp. 61-62), reflects the game of tensions suggested by the film’s title: ‘revolt and resignation’.

  • Usually in a film like Rachel, Rachel we wait to see what flashy trauma from the past might make the main character worthy of our attention. But Rachel Cameron is ordinary even in what she suffers. And that choice feels more risky now than ever, even with Jerome Moross’s memorably plaintive score bolstering Woodward’s performance during some of Rachel’s solitary walks.

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