Films about the theatre tend to be arch and ironic, like All About Eve or Being Julia. As you might expect, coming from indie godfather John Cassavetes, 1977’s Opening Night is something else, a weird, raw, ragged portrait of an actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown. (Pedro Almodovar signaled his love for this movie by recreating a key sequence for All About My Mother.) Gena Rowlands gives one of her bravest, most startling performances here, waging guerilla combat with the demands of a play she can’t abide, wrestling with demons so real they kick her in the teeth. It’s a film about getting old, no longer recognizing the face you see in the mirror, and recommitting body and soul to that cliché: the show must go on.
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