Alan Arkin, making a most impressive directorial debut, has made a film that is not only funny but devastating in its emotional impact.
Arkin’s actors play very broadly, just at the edge of the caricatures they are in Jules Feiffer’s screenplay. But they fill in the outlines with such a wealth of human detail that it’s impossible not to identify with them. Both comedy and horror, therefore, hit closer to home.
Coproducer Elliott Gould plays a photographer who was successful until he began to ‘lose the people’ in his pictures, and found it unnecessary or impossible either to fight or really ‘feel’. Into his life comes Marcia Rodd, a girl who would like to mold him into ‘a strong, vital, self-assured man, that I can protect and take care of.’
Then the world gets in the way, and Feiffer once and for all stops being the amiably satiric cartoonist, and hurtles towards a painful conclusion: that the only way for the ‘mad’ and the ‘alienated’ to get back into the world is to adopt its insanity.
Vincent Gardenia, Elizabeth Wilson and Jon Korkes are excellent as Rodd’s extraordinary family. Juicy ‘bits’ are played by Arkin as a paranoid detective, Lou Jacobi, as a judge who remembers his days on the Lower East Side; and Donald Sutherland, as a hip minister.