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Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can (1982)

An Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker (Jill Clayburgh) is addicted to Valium which masks her anxieties. While filming a documentary on a terminally ill poet (Geraldine Page), she attempts to get off her Valium cold turkey. This is a mistake as she spirals into an emotional and mental depression which causes her sadistic, controlling lover (Nicol Williamson) to control her with verbal and physical abuse. Based on the memoir of Emmy award winning documentarian Barbara Gordon, the film never manages to get to the causes of Clayburgh's psychosis but it nevertheless is a harrowing descent into Hell with a tour de force performance by Clayburgh, quite possibly her best. Clayburgh manages to chillingly take us with her as she spirals into her madness but without the ridiculous actressy histrionics of Ellen Burstyn's performance in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM which covered similar terrain. In briefer roles, Page and Dianne Wiest (as Clayburgh's therapist) make strong impressions. Directed by Jack Hoffsis. The simple (a string quartet and a piano) but strong score is by Stanley Silverman. The large cast is littered with talent including John Lithgow, Joe Pesci, Ellen Greene, Albert Salmi, Daniel Stern, CCH Pounder, Dan Hedaya, Richard Masur, Jeffrey DeMunn, Kathleen Widdoes, Margaret Ladd, Toni Kalem, Anne De Salvo, Robert DoQui and David Margulies.

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