I love getting accidentally sucked into '70s New York movies. Late Saturday night, trying to stave off drunken nausea (I swear, beer doesn't normally put me over the edge but Oktoberfest quantities may have done me in) by eating day-old pizza, I stumbled upon An Unmarried Woman. Unfortunately, I'd missed the first half hour but thanks to the magic of my new DVR I was able to capture the film in all its nostalgic glory last night.
It's totally in that Kramer vs Kramer cultural shift genre where children are precocious, problems don't really seem like problems by today's standards and phrases like women's lib and male chauvinist pig are tossed around without irony. There might be male facial hair and there's likely to be female nudity.
Emily, the title character in An Unmarried Woman is totally sassy and Upper East Side with a part time Soho gallery job, a Wall St. provider with whom she still has an active sex life and a gaggle of good time gals she goes out drinking with once a week Sex and the City style (hey, one of older women is banging a 19-year-old).
But to get to my point–as you might guess from the name of the movie, the protagonist's husband leaves her for a 26-year-old he met a Bloomingdale's and traumatized wife pukes up the pea soupiest vomit since The Exorcist (must be from all those "health food" salads).
What I got hung up on and which seems to be a growing preoccupation with each passing year, was trying to figure out how old the characters were supposed to be. I was guessing 40-ish. The women were all attractive, perky and fairly line-free (scrutinizing light creases and crinkles appearing around my nose and eyes is another ridiculous past time I've recently developed. I've always been extremely anti-surgery but I am starting to see how it might start to appeal to people. As a kid I read a quote from Nick Rhodes about how he'd never get plastic surgery and disturbingly this sentiment has stuck with me for decades. I mean, if a rich, make up wearing man could resist the sway of perfection, why can't I? Then again, I haven't seen any recent photos of the guy…ok, I found one and he doesn't look terribly surgerized) and I tend to think people on TV are older than they are. If someone looks to be about my age, they usually turn out to be late 20s so I guessed these actresses were more in their late 30s.
Curiosity got the better of me and I looked up Jill Clayburgh's birth date. April 30, 1944, which would've made her exactly my current age in this role. Egads. Talk about a cultural shift. I can't even imagine starting my life over after 16 years or marriage while raising a teenage daughter when at 34 I'm just beginning to feel like I'm getting my shit together. A present day unmarried woman has so many more puke-inducing things to think about.