[Quick Summary: A slice of life story of a mother who might be mad, steady husband, and three happy kids.]
Director John Cassavettes tried to write a play for his wife Gena Rowlands.
After several failed drafts, she said, "Deal with it from a woman's point of view. Deal with it so that I have a part." He wrote her a juicy role, Mabel, in this script.
Cassavettes was interested in the simultaneous hate/love, or love/like dynamic.
Combining opposites guarantees conflict. This is why Mabel is so fascinating.
In the scene below, Mr. Jensen is dropping off his kids to play with Mabel's kids. He does not know how to deal with Mabel, who insists he participate in the fun.
This scene is a contrast of both uncomfortable and fun.
ex. "The three boys sit on the couch watching Mabel dancing with Mr. Jensen.
MABEL: Now isn't this fun?
Maria and Adrienne continue their dance steps.
MARIA: Mama, watch this now...we're gonna die. Come on, Mom.
Mabel breaks self-consciously away from Mr. Jensen.
Adrienne does the last part of the "Swan Lake" which is the swan curtsey into the death.
Maria does it.
Mabel is clapping and yelling bravo; she signals the boys to clap too.
Mabel turns to Mr. Jensen who is just standing there.
MABEL: Come on, applaud your daughter. She just died for you.
He reluctantly applauds.
MABEL: Bravo, bravo!
The boys pick it up.
TONY, ANGELO, JOHN: Bravo, bravo.
"Swan Lake" ends and a version of "Pathetique" comes on, a piano solo.
Mabel circles and begins dancing solo.
Maria and Adrienne begin dancing.
The boys get up and begin dancing, leaping through the air.
Mr. Jensen stands there."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: For instant conflict, combine opposite traits.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974)(dated 8/23/72)
by John Cassavetes