GIRLFRIEND BLU CRITERION RAY REVIEW

There is an unsettled feel running through Claudia Weill GIRLFRIENDS. A film that does a lot more then explore the intimate relationship between a younger woman and her older, Rabbi lover. For the unsettled in the film is cascading from life, from art, from emotion and from a distant faith. Like a conversation with a parent, about a subject you would rather avoid, GIRLFRIENDS understand that life is often not a comfortable conversation.

Susan (Melanie Mayron) flatmate is moving after after her partner proposed. Susan wants to become a gallery artist but has to live with bar mitzvah photos on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Rich and fashionable but hardly the life she dreamed off or the future prospects she hoped for. With life hurriedly passing her by, she meets an older and married rabbi (Eli Wallach). They hit it off and slowly a relationship develops. One that will blossom but what will it lead to?

The tender shoots of a branch. That is what is explored in compassionate and mediated glory here. Some would celebrate director Weill for her skill at not pushing the action or tightening the frame. I would prefer to commend leads Mayron and Wallach. They share something utterly beguiling. Infused with a level of frankness that the uninstructive camera allows us to see. This film is a myriad of ideas. From what it means to be Jewish, a woman, in love, a sexual being in the frame of religion. But it excels at telling us a simple and quite beautiful love story. Without judgement or pandering to a desired expectation. The notes say ‘A wonder of American independent filmmaking’  and ‘authentic vision of female relationships’, which is pertinent but it is in its frankness that GIRLFRIENDS touches us most.

DISC

4 K has a lovely ring to it. But does it help here? I have nothing to compare it to, so it stands on its own. It neither falls or rises. Its quite flat. 16mm (I suspect its thats as its thrown around as such) has that issue and the lack of aggressive lighting, makes the whole work together. I do not, however suspect it changes the film in many ways.

EXTRAS

The shorts on the disc are excellent. I would say Commuters, a 1973 short film by Weill, is a funny and very well put together film from a student creator. Start there.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Claudia Weill and director of photography Fred Murphy, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • New interview with Weill
  • New interview with Weill and actors Melanie Mayron, Christopher Guest, and Bob Balaban
  • New interview with screenwriter Vicki Polon
  • New interview with Weill and writer and director Joey Soloway
  • Joyce at 34, a 1972 short film by Weill and Joyce Chopra
  • Commuters, a 1973 short film by Weill
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: Essays by critic Molly Haskell and scholar Carol Gilligan

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