The Group Film Details
Overview: After graduating from a prestigious Eastern university, eight devoted women friends go their separate ways: one leaves for Europe, while the others experience troubled relationships. Sadly, they get to meet one last time as a group.
Review: Sidney Lumet is a masterful craftsman of socially aware drama that tackles important cultural questions, and even for its time, which was a time of radical social change that beginning to reflect on theater screens, The Group treated some divisive themes, for example the association of free love with progressive social revolution, and depicting it as a forerunner of a new anti-fascistic, anti-oppressive awareness and critique of marriage as a form of social bondage, not to mention contraception, abortion, lesbianism and mental illness. And owing to Lumet’s subtle use of technical skills, The Group—possibly his biggest, least characteristic and least considered film—is a skillfully paced and giftedly acted adaptation of Mary McCarthy’s novel charting the kismet of eight Vassar graduates, class of ’33, up to the start of WWII. Sidney Buchman’s script does some outstanding couture work on the material, clipping away all the adipose tissue and slashing the remaining into hundreds of pointed little scenes which are assembled as a charmingly droll montage of the decade, though Lumet’s concerns are towards the thematic nature of McCarthy’s story rather than the setting. Joanna Pettet is quite convincing as the one who marries Larry Hagman’s prototype self-destructive aspiring writer, there’s an impressive debut by Kathleen Widdoes, and as does the great Hal Holbrook, and Candice Bergen as a Paris refugee who returns courted by a German countess. But the most memorable performance for me is by Jessica Walter, who is now exercising great comic ability on a wholly new generation of television such as Arrested Development and Archer. There is a real conflict between who she is on the inside and out that she portrays so authentically and epitomizes a familiar but difficult-to-depict personality. Also Joan Hackett, in a BAFTA-nominated debut performance of her own, provides an especially varied array of emotional conversion. And willowy, eye-catching ginger leading lady Elizabeth Hartman displays her versatility between her upper-class collegiate role here and the capricious, heartbreaking flirt she played in Francis Ford Coppola’s debut film You’re a Big Boy Now the same year. Director of Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Pawnbroker, Murder on the Orient Express, Dog Day Afternoon and Network, Lumet is noted for drawing award-winning performances from his casts. Chiefly cunning in this, his tenth film, is the way in which the girls, each one elegantly and idiosyncratically characterized, are seen to develop individually. For example viewing the Hackett of the closing scenes, bigheaded wife of an Arizona oil-man, subtly changing physically as well, and almost certainly a mainstay of the local ladies’ league, and recalling her first, desperately bold affair with a Greenwich Village painter, one thinks with amazement that’s just how she might become. With Boris Kaufman’s superbly striking cinematography to appreciate, the Kurosawa-style multi-plane tableaux of various characters in single painterly shots, demonstrating a poetic and caring property in his capturing of these layered images, a quality that marked his extraordinarily noble career, The Group is a vividly experiential chronicle of the girl-to-woman sexual and social transitions as the characters try on sex, religion and politics. It’s the thinking viewer’s Sex and the City.
Country: United States
Duration: 150 min
Also known as: A csoport,Klikken,Przyjaciółki,The Group,Ryhmä,グループ,Le groupe,Групата,Группа,Il gruppo,Osa kryvei o ouranos,Il gruppo e le sue passioni,Група,Die Clique,O Grupo,Gänget,De groep,O Grupo do Colégio,Gruppen,El grupo