Picks and Pans Review: Another Woman

updated 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

For those horrified when Woody Allen deserts comedy for drama, as he did in Interiors and September, welcome to Part 3 of his trilogy of terror. You'll find more laughs in Persona, the Ingmar Bergman masterpiece that this film copies but cannot match. Gena Rowlands plays a philosophy professor who rents a small Manhattan apartment where she can work on a new book. Through an air vent, she hears the psychiatrist next door treating a suicidally depressed pregnant woman, Mia Farrow. Rowlands begins to share Farrow's self-doubts. In reexamining her own life, she finds that she has shut herself off from emotion. Her surgeon husband (Ian Holm), her stepdaughter (Martha Plimpton), her father (John Houseman), her brother (Harris Yulin), her friends (Sandy Dennis, Blythe Danner), even the novelist who loves her (Gene Hackman) have been forbidden to disrupt her intellectual pursuits. As she finds her personality merging dangerously with Farrow's, Rowlands vows to change. Allen elicits trenchant performances, especially from Rowlands, who uncovers a cold character's beating heart. But the Bergman influence (down to using the Swedish master's cameraman Sven Nykvist) is getting out of hand. At his best (Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters), Allen draws from his own experiences. Drawing from Bergman leaves a first-rank American filmmaker producing artifice instead of art. How's that for depressing? (PG)

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