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"I'm just a mild success in a dull profession."
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Faces is a 1968 film directed by John Cassavetes.

It is about the existential despair and ennui among upper-class suburbanites. The story centers around a married couple, Richard and Maria; he is an executive at a finance company and she (this being 1968) is his stay-at-home wife. Their marriage might or might not have had something to do with love at some point, but the film finds them having dissolved into mutual resentment. One night a seemingly pleasant but actually tense conversation ends with Richard demanding a divorce. Richard leaves the house immediately, going off to see Jeannie (Gena Rowlands), a high-end prostitute. Maria goes out with her friends, where she meets a businessman at the bar.

Christina Crawford, adopted daughter of Joan Crawford and later of Mommie Dearest infamy, appears as "Woman Scattering Coins at Bar". A young Universal intern named Steven Spielberg served as a production assistant. John Marley, who stars as Richard, found a horse's head in his bed in The Godfather.

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Tropes:

  • The Cameo: Don Siegel, Hollywood film director who directed John Cassavetes in the 1964 version of The Killers, is an extra at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When a cranky Richard barks "You look lousy" to his attentive secretary, we learn a lot about him right off the bat.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: A single evening.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: How Jeannie is framed as Freddie, off-camera, starts screaming about how she's a whore—Freddie is mad because Richard showed up and she started paying more attention to him.
  • Handsome Lech: Chet, the vaguely skeezy blow-dried guy that Maria and her three friends come home with. Somehow, the fact that Chet came home with four middle-aged housewives rather than one makes him creepier.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Jeannie receives clients in her own home and charges at least $200 (in 1968 money).
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  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Jeannie specifically denies this, saying "I haven't got a heart of gold." But as later becomes clear, she really cares about Richard in a way she doesn't care about all the other gross businessmen who pay her.
  • Lady Drunk: All four of the women in Maria's little group are melancholy, but Florence, the drunkest and the one most nakedly desperate for affection, stands out.
  • Shout-Out: The opening scene is sleazy, pathetic ad man Freddy Draper screening a commercial film for Richard. Freddy says "We call it La Dolce Vita for the commercial set."
  • Slip into Something More Comfortable: When Jeannie says she's going to change from her dress into something more comfortable, Freddy says "My heart! It's so excited!" Subverted when Jeannie comes out wearing a simple sweater and slacks. Notably, when Jeannie's with Richard, whom she likes a lot better, she does change into a nightie.
  • Speech-Centric Work: The whole movie is talking, as through a series of encounters people are forced to deal with the emptiness of their lives.
  • Stepford Smiler: Richard and Maria make happy, pleasant talk, even laughing and telling jokes, but there's a thick undercurrent of tension that occasionally bursts out. Eventually he demands a divorce and walks out of the house.
  • Stylistic Suck: Most of the independent films made by Cassavetes were No Budget affairs but he really pushed it to the limit here, filming Deliberately Monochrome with a handheld 16mm camera. The movie looks like one of the "cinema verite" documentaries that were becoming popular in that era, like Primary or 1969 film Salesman.
  • Take That!: Maria wants to go to a movie.
    Maria: There's a Bergman film in the neighborhood.
    Richard: I don't feel like getting depressed tonight.
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