Tough-minded, moving study of a working-class housewife's mental breakdown, enhanced by superb performances from Rowlands, in the title role, and Falk as her husband. Laborteaux, Grisanti, and Cassel play the children. A kind of tragic duet between the two leads, A WOMAN remains an insightful essay on sexual politics. As Rowlands delicately crosses the line of sanity, it becomes apparent that imposed social roles are the cause. Both Rowlands (who lost to Ellen Burstyn for ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE) and Cassavetes (for direction) were nominated for Oscars for this unexpected minor hit, which grossed well over $6 million the first time around. It began as a theatrical piece for Rowlands, but she balked at having to play such a demanding role nightly and the suggestion was made to transform it into a movie. Cassavetes took out a mortgage on his home, contacted friends and relatives for financing, and then began a two-year shooting schedule dictated by his own personal finances. Cassavetes's work is often mistaken as improvisational, or even as cinema verite. In fact, his films are thoughtful celebrations of the art of acting and, in most cases, are shot from precise scripts (even if those scripts are themselves based on extensive improvisational exercises).