Quick-Thoughts: John Cassavetes’ Husbands (1970)

John Cassavetes Marathon Part II of V

This is PEAK improv for 131 minutes straight.

A comrade of three men has just died. It’s been said that grief usually triggers acts of imprudent disregard for that which is to be grieved over. Knowing the insensitive ego of our three main characters here, the three best friends, it seems natural that they’d use the background of the world as a means to possibly forsake this idea that their lives were basically in a death stage psychologically, with no room to grow and no new ground to explore. Their friend’s time ran out so that now correlates momentarily to a sudden fear that their’s could too. In Husbands, these three completely forget about the consequences of what their following actions could ensue and become monsters for a couple days, ritualizing this selfish toxicity as a means to convey friendly outbursts of opinions or artificially provoke any sort of fresh meaning in their lives. But this situation they’ve dipped themselves in, it’s got them stuck in tar, unable to pull out of a life that almost completely circumvents their family roles; they’re desperate for the husband and father role to die with their journey as they lose themselves in this masculine ridicule. 

Compared to his previous output Faces, I think John Cassavetes has improved not only in his compositional scenery, but with allowing scenes to escalate into more revealing statements when it comes to what they say about our often intoxicated lead characters. That 1968 film was a bottleneck of hateful lunacy building to a pinnacle, but Husbands seeks out the audience to suffer in causality rather than build-up, and it results in these passive-aggressive scenes where we truly get to understand their self-hatred and insecurities as they reflect it unfortunately onto an array of other people and maybe even on their own colleagues. 

I’ve often quoted filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson as thee director best known for concocting naturalism out of his actors, but Cassavetes may just have the lead now due to the freedom he gives his crew: to be as destructive as possible, letting scenes ring out in maybe their own personal traumas with as much unforeseen time as they need. There’s a daringly uncomfortable “sex scene” in this movie between one of the friends (John Cassavetes) and this woman he picks up one night (Jenny Runacre), and as cheesy as it sounds, I could feel Cassavete and Runacre — as their own, real-life selves — crying inside as middle-aged people while they try to make some form of this hybrid of a sexual act seem like anything remotely fun or risky. 

Husbands is genuinely one of the most genuine films to speak on male genuineness ever, and it’s genuinely disgusting to watch… genuine genuine! The bromance reaches level “infinity” in this too, and I can’t say I’ve seen borderline gay chemistry done this convincingly since Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

Verdict: A+

John Cassavetes Ranked, My All-Time Favorite Movies

“Husbands” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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