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Faces Review

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A couple who find themselves in a marriage gone stale, decide to try and enliven things by getting other people to join them having sex. The couple soon meet a pretty hooker who invites them back to her flat along with another handsome young man.

★★★★★

One of Cassavetes' several masterpieces, this portrait of a marriage in crisis ping-pongs between a successful businessman (Marley) and his tartly neurotic wife (Carlin) as they try to "swing" with a brittle but sharp hooker (Rowlands) and a callow, talkative hippy stud (Cassel).

The scenes in Rowlands' pad, as Marley spars verbally with the girl and her other chattily sad clients, are among the best things the director ever did, and the slide from jokiness to bitterness in the marital conversations is truly alarming. The kinetic, blurry black-and-white style superbly captures the gaudy clubs and emptily luxurious interiors through which the emotionally wounded characters crawl, allowing a perfect cast room to free-associate to devastating effect.

In Cassavetes' most memorable and successful film, he takes the risk of letting the crew improvise throughout. The gamble pays off with the ever-reliable Rowlands' giving a great performance as the hooker while Carlin and Marley convincingly play the couple bored in their marriage.

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