Shadows (1959)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Brendon Hanley

John Cassavetes' Shadows is one of the most important and influential movies of American independent cinema. Shot on location in New York City in gritty, naturalistic black-and-white, it was one of the first American efforts to exhibit the urgent, spontaneous look and feel of French New Wave films. Cassavetes had been a reasonably well-known actor, but his first directorial effort was a world apart from the popular dramas of the era. Shadows set the tone for personal, independently made features for decades to come: it tackled controversial subject matter, featured a cast of unknowns, and had a distinctly unprofessional veneer in most technical aspects. The candidness of the performances and the audacity of the director set it apart: the script was largely influenced by the actors during their rehearsals. In initial screenings, Shadows was shunned by audiences; Cassavetes reworked much of it and re-released the film to greater success.