Husbands is a take no prisoners drama about men facing uncertainty in middle age. I can see how this film was so polarizing for many people back when it was released in 1970, but there’s no question that writer/director John Cassavetes was on to something extremely intense and raw and honest with this purposefully ragged account of men being boys who think they are being men. I loved the improvisational spirit and style, the performances from Ben Gazzara, Cassavetes, and Peter Falk all complement one another brilliantly, and all three men got a chance to etch an extremely detailed portrait of masculine malaise that felt rooted in truth and feeling. This is one of those epic waste-festival movies that will turn off some viewers because of the excessive debauchery, but I found it to be thought provoking, emotionally stirring, and frequently hysterical.
You can definitely see why this film has been so inspirational to so many filmmakers over the years, and how the style has been appropriated countless times. Victor Kemper’s bold cinematography shoved every image in your face with force, while the spontaneous nature of the filmmaking aesthetic and acting in general allowed for unpredictable beats of true life to bubble to the surface. This has got to be one of the ultimate cinematic explorations of manliness in all its forms and complexities, while it simultaneously operates as a scabrous indictment of the marriage in suburbia. The film’s final scene stings with a poignancy and uncertainty that is hard to shake. Oh, and I absolutely adore the opening credit montage with the still photos – such a great way to immediately grab the viewer.