Love Streams

Note: this review is a contribution to the 1984 A-Thon hosted by the great folks over at Forgotten Films. The films Big Brother was watching.

Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)

Two closely bound, emotionally wounded siblings reunite after years apart.

Of the many things I want in a movie to be satisfied with I need an interesting plot about human beings that I can believe in. Also, I need a story that involves unpredictable events and it doesn’t have to be mind blowing things. It must like it is the first time it is happening in front of my eyes and I want to believe in its characters. The later don’t have to be perfect they can be strong but at the same time have weaknesses and do things they not always understand or control.

With John Cassavetes and his films, things often get to places you never could have guessed. His masterpiece, A Woman Under the Influence, delivers samples of life. With Love Streams, John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands portray unique characters that love too much, live intensely and are not the typical lead roles Hollywood would put on a thirty foot poster.
Cassavetes made Love Streams right after receiving a diagnosis that he would only live for six months. For that, it is considered as his last film even if he directed Big Trouble in 1986 after writer Andrew Bergman declined directing, Love Streams is the last genuine Cassavetes film.

As mentioned before, John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands give tremendous performances and the couple who impersonate siblings in Love Streams have the same frailty and depth and all the spotlight is used to highlight the complex human beings they portray. The natural realism of the mise en scène leaves much to the story and the characters. It doesn’t feel like a film that was made in the 1980’s or anytime span. It just feels like a bit of life that could be from any family in any era.

Even before knowing that Cassavetes was ill while making Love Streams, I learned that fact after viewing it, this is pretty clear that he was not at the top of his physical form. There’s a sadness and an urgency in Love Streams for Cassavetes but also for Rowlands. Their characters seem to be incapable of fulfilling their emptiness of love and affection. Just like artists that create, perform, and act to gain the love of the public and get the recognition they need just like fuel or food.
As the audience, we want them to be happy and fill the void they have while making, most of the time, fools of themselves.

As a final note, this review was a contribution to the aforementioned 1984-a-thon and was a pleasure to be a part of. However, Love Streams is a film that doesn’t feel 1984ish and even if it’s a very rewarding film to watch I don’t think that it can be well catgorized as a 1980’s film.
Much like other Cassavetes films, Love Streams can only be categorized as a Cassavetes film and nothing else.


  1. I have never heard of this film until I read your thoughtful review. Thanks for posting this – will check it out. :)

  2. I'm thankful for a review that isn't 1984ish. In all honesty, I find most of the films from this year to be saccharin, popcorn selling throwaway entertainment. I'm happy you were able to contribute this review to our blog-a-thon, it's definitely one of the films from 1984 (along with Streetwise) that I'll be seeking out now because it was highlighted.-JL

    1. I'm glad I did it justicve because Cassavetes did an amazing job on it. The whole 1980's decade was filled with blockbusters and films for the masses. However, I'll cherish thoise years because my childhood was during that era.


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