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Rachel, Rachel

A movie directed by Paul Newman

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Whatever You Wish For

  • Sep 20, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+5
Very few actors turned directors prove themselves able in the dominant office, yet Paul Newman's debut at the helm of this tender adaptation of Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God evinces a rare sensitivity and skill. Although his future work exhibited greater stylistic refinement and an interest in diverse subject matter, Newman never shot anything so personal again, so declarative of intimacy or discomfiture.

At the age of thirty-five, New Englander elementary school teacher Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward) feels that her uneventful life is half-over, and at a longstanding impasse besides. Personable and bright but shy, limited by romantic isolation and anchored by her self-centered mother's fragile health, she feels bereft of opportunity and thrill alike. When a brusque, passionate childhood friend and fellow educator (James Olson) returns to her town, their ensuing fling is a catalyst from which Rachel's unearthed aspirations are suddenly realized, though not with the joy she'd hoped for.

As the aging spinster, Woodward was again a marvel, astonishing and painfully credible in every shot, be it of a hopeful smile or yearning stare. Newman's renowned acclaim as an actor's director can't be dismissed, but Woodward's remarkable talent for portraying sullen unfortunates was provided an apex here, and she'd shine just as brightly in this role without her spouse behind the camera. One can easily imagine Newman in Olson's place as her edgy, earthy prospect, and his decision to retain the better-cast, less charismatic actor in this position indicates admirable discipline. Playing Woodward's colleague and only close friend, Estelle Parsons is very nearly her equal as a gawky, warmly affable companion whose own emerging desires further destabilize our protagonist.

Rachel's memories, fantasies and fears are elegantly, abruptly depicted amid the drudgery of her daily routine. Even the most vivid expressions of her periodic monologue can't convey so much as these expositions, revealing both her loveliest ambitions and ugliest impulses. In recollection, her father's profession as a mortician suggests volumes regarding her preoccupation with mortality, and undying adoration of him. One Nell Potts - the first of Newman's and Woodward's three children, and founder of Newman's Own Organics - plausibly portrays child Rachel, as apt for the quiet penetration of her stare as for an unmistakable resemblance to her mother.

Understated exhibitions of fine acting and writing were once a staple of the American adult drama, and this film is as good a specimen of this waning model as any.

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September 20, 2011
This is *wonderfulsie*, Snuudles! ^-^ I didn't know that it's Paul Newman's wife, heehee! :D I love that her daughter plays the younger version of herselfie, heehee! ^-^ I'd really love to watchie this with you sometime soonie, heehee! ^-^ Muu! ^-^ ♥ Annusya ♥
September 21, 2011
You'll love this picture as much as I do, if only for its haunted coziness and comfortable conclusion. Nell N. grew to resemble her father just so much as her mother, but their likeness at her nine years was remarkable.
September 22, 2011
Ohh! ^-^ That sounds so nice! ^-^ Ouaou, heehee! ^-^ I'm excitedsie to see, heehee! ^-^

Muu ^-^

♥ Annusya ♥
 
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More Rachel, Rachel reviews
review by . December 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Based on the novel "A Jest of God" by Margaret Laurence, 1968's RACHEL, RACHEL marked the directorial debut of Paul Newman, and boasted one of Joanne Woodward's most moving, searching performances as a middle-aged schoolteacher trying to rail against her inhibited personality.    "I'm exactly at the middle of my life, and this is the final ascending year", laments Rachel Cameron (Woodward). Unmarried and still living at home with her mother, 35-year-old Rachel has fallen into …
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Robert Buchanan ()
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About this movie

Wiki

Few first-time directors have enough clout to attempt an interiorized psychological drama about a woman's fragile sense of identity. But if your name is Paul Newman, and your leading lady is also your Oscar-winning wife, and the year is 1968… well, you begin to see how Rachel, Rachel got made. Rachel, 35, lives with her mother in a small town, stifled by routine and her own repressed tendencies. During her summer break as a schoolteacher, a few upsetting things happen in short order: the attention of a fellow teacher (Estelle Parsons), an intense encounter at a church meeting, and especially the return of a high-school classmate (James Olson) who is looking for--as he frankly says--a little action. Based on the novel A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence, and scripted by the sensitive Stewart Stern (no coincidence that he also did the Rebel Without a Cause screenplay), Rachel, Rachel includes seamless flashbacks to the title character's childhood, neatly blending the adult experience to youthful traumas. Newman handles this with skill, but primarily he creates an open space for Woodward to shine: there's nothing trite or easy about her performance, nothing of the traditional Hollywood "spinster." Not surprisingly, she received one of the film's four Oscar nominations, along with nods for Parsons, Stern, and Best Picture; but Newman's direction was not nominated. Also notable: a lyrical score by Jerome Moross. Today the film has some traces of...
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Details

Director: Paul Newman
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 1968.8.26
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Stewart Stern
DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
Runtime: 101 minutes
Studio: Kayos Productions
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