The Role Of Myrtle Gordon In John Cassavetes 'Opening Night'

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In director John Cassavetes’ 1977 film Opening Night, Gena Rowlands plays the role of actress Myrtle Gordon. Gena Rowlands’ incredibly complicated character stars as a film actress in a play centering on a woman’s resentment of her aging and thus follows her agony and struggles that come along with trying to cope with it. As the film develops, it is apparent that a recurring theme of Myrtle Gordon’s rising emotional instability is occurring. Through Myrtle Gordon’s many vices and incidents that surround them, John Cassavetes showcases the increasingly unstable Myrtle Gordon and her painful change in attitude towards herself as she realizes she is no longer in her prime and desirable. From an early point in the film, I felt a sense of uncertainty about Myrtle Gordon’s ability to compose herself as she wrestled with her persistent feelings. As a woman deeply troubled by her own aging, her playing a role focusing on the same thing only further compromised her emotional stability. I believe John Cassavetes was commenting on the idea of aging and its pervasive hold on the mind through Myrtle and her alcoholism. One poignant scene that showcased how agonizing this concept and role was for her came during a showing of her play when she left the stage and immediately went for a bottle of liquor…show more content…
There seems to be no moment in the film when Myrtle Gordon is content with her age, or comfortable with her transition from being desirable to being undesirable. I believe this brings up one of the most shocking questions of the film: does the concept of aging every fully leave one’s mind? This question was not resolved at the end of the film with a definitive answer, which I think parallels our own real life sentiments about aging. Since we are on a crash course with death, the fear of aging is always present in some way and can never be

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