Faces [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1968]

John Cassavetes has been directing films for close to ten years when Faces was released in 1968, but it was the picture that established him as one of America's most original and distinctive talents behind the camera long after he'd earned a reputation as a quirky but charismatic actor. The Criterion Collection have given Faces a new release on DVD, and the disc walks the fine line between accurately capturing the movie's rough, naturalistic look (it was shot on 16mm and lit to give the cast maximum freedom of movement) and cleaning up a film that had suffered at the hands of time and rough treatment. Transferred to disc in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1, Faces often looks grainy and the contrast shifts dramatically from scene to scene, but the film's unvarnished look is purposeful, and the transfer that appears on disc one of this set reflects the vision of Cassavetes and director of photography Al Ruban, and unlike some earlier video releases this shows us the grit that is supposed to be there without the grit that isn't, and it does make a difference. Disc two is devoted to supplementary materials, most notably an alternate version of the opening of the film (running seventeen minutes), which presents the footage in a notably different sequence (it was replaced after the film had screened at the Toronto Film Festival). Also featured is an episode of the French television series Cineastes de Notre Temps devoted to Cassavetes which includes two interviews with the filmmaker -- one shot in California in 1965 while Faces was in production, and other shot in a French television studio in 1968 after it had been released. The interviews are often funny and revealing, though the quality of the archival print is fair at best. And two original documentaries round out the disc -- Making Faces, featuring interviews with actors Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel and Lynn Carlin and camerman/editor Al Ruban as they discuss the long process of making the film, and Lighting and Shooting The Film, in which Ruban breaks down the different film stocks, lenses and lighting techniques used to give different scenes in Faces their individual looks. And finally, the booklet includes a short but appreciative essay by Stuart Klawans. Faces has never been a beautiful film to look at, but it's a powerful and moving study of the human heart, and Criterion have helped give the movie a new life on home video; this DVD is it's best presentation yet for film collectors.
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Special Features

  • Seventeen-minute alternate opening sequence from an early edit of the film
  • Episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps from 1968, dedicated to Cassavetes, featuring rare interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
  • Making "Faces," a 2004 documentary including interviews with actors Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, and Gena Rowlands and director of photography AL Ruban
  • Lighting & Shooting the film, a short documentary from 2004 in which Ruban explains how he and the crew achieved the distinct look of Faces
  • A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Stuart Klawans


Faces is right: this definitive John Cassavetes film consists almost exclusively of tight, uncomfortable close-ups. It takes place in the fourteenth year of the marriage of Richard (John Marley) and Maria (Lynn Carlin). Neither husband nor wife is content with the conditions that prevail; Maria joins her friends looking for romantic satisfaction elsewhere, while Richard secures the services of a prostitute (Gena Rowlands). Maria herself has a one-night stand with a hippie (Seymour Cassel), but this is no more satisfying than her dead-end marriage. If you think that Faces is an exhausting experience in its current 130-minute length, imagine what it looked like in Cassavetes' original six-hour cut. Alternately clumsy and profound, it is nonetheless a work of deep sincerity, as recognized by the Venice Film Festival, which bestowed no fewer than five awards on the film, and it perfectly exemplifies Cassavetes' improvisational, cinéma vérité style and searching explorations of modern relationships. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • John Marley
    John Marley - Richard Forst
  • Gena Rowlands
    Gena Rowlands - Jeannie Rapp
  • Lynn Carlin
    Lynn Carlin - Maria Forst
  • Seymour Cassel
    Seymour Cassel - Chet
  • Val Avery
    Val Avery - McCarthy
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