It’s hard to forgive a director of Altman’s skill the fact that he never comes close to having us fooled.
Written and Directed by Robert Altman
Starring Susanna York, Rene Auberjonois, Marcel Bozzuffi, Hugh Millais, Cathryn Harrison, John Morley
Images is the study of a pregnant children’s book author (York) who is battling with illusions. She is getting calls from strangers suggesting that her husband is cheating on her. She is seeing lovers from her past; some dead, some with new families of their own.
After a rough night, her husband take her the the family cottage. Once there, the strange occurrences kick up a notch. She starts to take chances with them, and believes she’s found the way to end them.
The direction is great, at times. There are some nice cutaways from one illusion to the next. Then there are some jarring cutaways. The creative decision to switch everyone in the film’s real first names into character names is a big bludgeon of a hint. In the pantheon of Altman films, this is lost, and with a fair amount of reason. There are many hallmarks of films of the time, but his original screenplay is predictable, even if there are some great lines.
The performances are good. York is wanders between some very brave moments, to some moments that seem a bit too waifish. Auberjonois, an early Altman stalwart, gives off just the right amount of earnestness and sliminess to make one think he might be capable of kindness or lechery.
Cathryn Harrison is excellent as the daughter of one of York’s ex-lovers. She knows more than she’s letting on. She’s not going to give up the game.
Overly, this film pushes the viewer away. Like York’s protagonist, we think we know the routine. Unlike the young wife, we really do know how it’s going to turn on her. It’s hard to forgive a director of Altman’s skill the fact that he never comes close to having us fooled.
(*** out of *****)
From Ebert’s original *** review:
““Images” is a very atypical Altman film. For one thing, the dialog doesn’t overlap, and the visual style is more lyrical at some times, more jagged at others, than his usual approach of sticking his cinematic nose here and there and rummaging about in his plot.”