Director: John Cassavetes
Screenwriters: John Cassavetes

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


A second masterpiece. Less formal, looser than Faces (unlike most of Cassavetes’s films, Husbands has long passages which are improvised)—but there’s a formal reason for the informality: one of Husbands’ themes is fun. Not comedy; fun. And not fun for audiences necessarily,. though many passages get laughs. Rather, the film is partially about the need for people to have fun together in order to survive; and how paradoxical and even cruel their fun can become, leading them in a circle back to where they began. The fun is awkward and loose, with bursts of inspired madness, then lulls when one wonders if it’s over and what to do next—it creates a rhythm that structures the film so that the audience can’t comfortably watch the fun. Instead we are permeated with its moods and meanings.

Husbands extends Faces, picks up where it left off. Either of the three husbands, played by John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazarra, could be an alter ego of John Marley with his marriage patched up somehow, or gone on to a second marriage. Stifled by family obligations, oppressed by their fear of age and death, but still boyishly longing for that great drunk or that great one-night stand which will somehow magically make them whole, these men can no longer be boys, and yet these boys are not quite men. Painful, awkward, more than a little glorious, more than a little pathetic, with a beauty and a brutality that can’t be pried apart, they have precious little sense of who or what they are, except that they are most definitely husbands. Their hyperenergy may mask an inner laziness, an unwillingness to look deeply into themselves, and yet under the gaze of Cassavetes’s camera, these men are neither excused nor condemned. Rather, they’re exposed without mercy, and loved without qualification. In many ways, Husbands is Cassavetes’s most tender film.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]