An Unmarried Woman (Mazursky, 1978)

Erica (Jill Clayburgh), a beautiful, married woman whose husband decides to leave her for a younger woman, gets thrust into modern day independence, tries it on for size, and runs right into the 21st century in Paul Mazursky’s brilliant An Unmarried Woman. Clayburgh’s arc from happy and numb housewife to lonely but realized single flutters between comedy and tragedy, yet never feels less than completely genuine. In fact, the entire film resonates with honesty, revealing a changing social agenda (for both genders) through the eyes of a woman who’s never realized her own significance outside of married life. The glorious final scene speaks to Mazrusky’s calculated visual approach to Erica’s becoming. A series of epic long shots track her carrying a new boyfriend’s wonderful over-sized painting through the bustling streets of New York City; alone, capable, and vibrant with possibility.


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