Blume in Love (Paul Mazursky / U.S., 1973):

The drama of union and the comedy of dissolution, or vice versa, a finely shifting arrangement. Whither Blume (George Segal), the forlorn Beverly Hills divorce attorney? To windy Venice, envious of lovers all around, just about paralyzed by memories of his frizzy-haloed ex-wife (Susan Anspach). Their honeymoon is a blissful marathon in the bedroom and an espresso bender at the piazza, the break-up is an outbreak of sniffly noses back in Southern California. "It's all so sick, messy and stupid!" "It's known as divorce." Zen stews in faddish restaurants and flings with hippie chiclets comprise the miserable limbo of bachelorhood, soon he takes to peeking through windows and listening through doors for his lost beloved. His rival for her affections is a vagabond musician (Kris Kristofferson), a furry dropout so amiable that, not long after their first meeting, they're cruising around in his mustard Volkswagen, stoned and grinning. The triangle stretches, then shatters. "You think there's some connection between war and sex?" An adjustment of screwball complications for the new age (cf. Minnie and Moskowitz), also a most tender rendering of unrelenting obsession, Paul Mazursky's Vertigo, perhaps. ("About reality but not reality," declares the yoga instructor, incidentally elucidating the protagonist's fractured romanticism.) When the comical and the painful keep getting tangled, even the blubbering divorcée (Shelley Winters) and the no-strings kitty (Marsha Mason) air out their emotional vulnerabilities. Lubitsch's That Uncertain Feeling and Eliot's The Cocktail Party, the unforgivable act and the lesson not learned: "One of these days everyone will be swinging, and everyone will be happy." The whole West Coast megillah, psychotherapy sessions and agrarian fundraisers and soirées on pot clouds, the fumbling music of people trying to figure things out—Tristan und Isolde throbs at the close, but the pivotal sequence is a loose jam session, with the trio not quite harmonizing on a couch while Mazursky's camera slowly pulls away. Cinematography by Bruce Surtees.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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