Tennessee Williams is in an unusually lighthearted mood in Period of Adjustment, the big screen debut of director George Roy Hill. Not that there aren't dramatic moments in Period, but compared to such other Williams works as Suddenly Last Summer or A Streetcar Named Desire, Period is pretty tame -- which is not to say it's dull. Nor is it insubstantial, dealing as it does with the difficulties of people learning to live together and trust one another enough to let down their guards. There are flashes of the typical Williams insight into the human soul, but there's much more frivolity than the viewer is accustomed to with Williams. While this lessens the movie's ultimate impact, it also makes the movie very appealing to those viewers made uncomfortable by the deep emotions of the writer's other works. Hill does a marvelous job with his performers. While Jim Hutton goes a bit overboard on occasion, Jane Fonda manages to navigate the excesses of her character with just the right mixture of intensity and subtlety, and has some truly hilarious moments. Lois Nettleton is touching and endearing, and makes the car scene with Tony Franciosa appropriately painful. For his part, Franciosa turns in one of his finest performances; his tenderness stands in stark contrast to his self contempt and anger, and he switches from one to the others with convincing ease. Hill would follow Period with Toys in the Attic before really hitting his stride with The World of Henry Orient.
by Craig Butler review