“An Oasis of Estrogen Ennui” – Faye Dunaway in Jerry Schatzberg’s Puzzle of a Downfall Child – 35mm Screening

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, February 15 @ 7:30 PM
PUZZLE OF A DOWNFALL CHILD
Directed by Jerry Schatzberg • 1970
The first feature from Jerry Schatzberg, the Bronx-born fashion photographer who contributed to Vogue and Esquire and shot the album jacket for Blonde on Blonde, is the kind of purposefully obtuse, awesomely ambiguous, sharp-as-a-stiletto psychological melodrama that could only have emerged from early ’70s Hollywood.  A character study of troubled fashion model Lou Andreas Sand (Faye Dunaway, stunning), Puzzle of a Downfall Child assays a fragmented, nonlinear narrative style to match the mindset of its profoundly unreliable narrator. It plays like an art house version of Valley of the Dolls, as if directed by Alain Resnais. (The masterful editing is the work of Evan Lottman, who would evoke a similar sense of unease in The Exorcist and The Muppets Take Manhattan.) Recalling her career from her beachside cottage after a nervous breakdown, Lou sketches a journey marked by professional betrayal and sexual predation from mentors (Viveca Lindfors), suitors (Barry Primus), and ad execs (Roy Scheider). Written by Five Easy Pieces scribe Carole Eastman under her usual pseudonym Adrien Joyce, Puzzle remains notable, in the words of film blogger Ken Anderson, as “an oasis of estrogen ennui in the testosterone-laden desert of male-centric ’70s films romanticizing male identity crises and masculine existential moments-of-reckoning.” Long regarded as a classic in France but practically invisible in the US, this beguiling Puzzle deserves to be unlocked. (KW)
104 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Short: “Confessions of a Stardreamer” (John Canemaker, 1978) – 16mm – 9 min

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