review for Interiors on AllMovie

Interiors (1978)
by Leo Charney review

In the wake of his Oscar-winning breakthrough with Annie Hall (1977), and ahead of his melancholy Manhattan (1979), Woody Allen worked off his debt to Ingmar Bergman with this overtly "serious" film, a grim, beautifully shot exploration of family dysfunction. Allen's least funny movie, Interiors is also his most polarizing, dividing viewers who found it suffocatingly slow and pretentious from those who hailed Allen's leap forward as a serious art director. Influenced most immediately by the family chamber drama of Bergman's Cries and Whispers (1972), the film derives much of its power from the stunning cinematography of Gordon Willis, who had also shot the Godfather movies, and the art direction of Daniel Robert. For some observers, Allen learned the wrong lesson from the mainstream embrace of Annie Hall, and his lunge toward claustrophobic, self-satisfied, middlebrow art violated everything that he had ever mocked, right down to the straight-faced used of talking heads addressing the camera that he had lampooned in Take the Money and Run (1969). For others, Interiors only highlighted the underlying seriousness of Allen's movies, especially as he headed toward such classic comedy dramas as Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). In light of those later movies, Interiors looks better than it did at the time, holding up surprisingly well on its own terms as an incisive Chekhovian drama of a ruined family, featuring a gallery of unforgettable performances from such stalwarts as E.G. Marshall, Geraldine Page, and Maureen Stapleton.