Mid-Day Mini ~ An Unmarried Woman

The Facts:

Synopsis: A wealthy woman from Manhattan’s Upper East Side struggles to deal with her new identity and her sexuality after her husband of 16 years leaves her for a younger woman.

Stars: Jill Clayburgh, Alan Bates, Michael Murphy, Kelly Bishop, Lisa Lucas

Director: Paul Mazursky

Rated: R

Running Length: 124 minutes

TMMM Score: (7/10)

Review:The winner of the Best Actress Oscar of 1979 was Jane Fonda for Coming Home but while Fonda was a very worthy winner, I’m still of the mind that the late Clayburgh should have taken the trophy for her bravura performance in An Unmarried Woman.  The late 70’s was still working through a changing tide of independent women and the film came along at the perfect time to show the warts and all experience of a woman left by her husband for a younger model.  Clayburgh never lets her character wallow but soldiers on even when the odds are stacked against her.  What I like so much about director/screenwriter Mazursky’s approach to this is the way he presents Clayburgh’s rise from the ashes of a divorce not as a fairy tale of success against adversity but as someone taking control of her life and choices.  Not only Clayburgh is well cast but her friends and family are uniquely credible as well including Bates as an unlikely suitor.  Even if the film hasn’t aged particularly well, the overall effect of An Unmarried Woman still hits the mark three decades later.

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