While in the midst of rehearsals for her latest play, Broadway actor Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, after which she begins to confront the chaos of her own life. Headlined by a virtuoso performance by Rowlands, John Cassavetes’s OPENING NIGHT lays bare the drama of a performer who, at great personal cost, makes a part her own.
“The filmmaker’s habitual insistence on the inseparability of actor and character (and of art and life) reverberates here within the haunted corridors of a backstage melodrama. The aging, raging Myrtle is a directorial alter ego. Which is to say, OPENING NIGHT dramatizes what Cassavetes’s other films embody—the radical, rupturing search for a truthful means of Expression.” —Dennis Lim, Criterion.com “OPENING NIGHT, from 1977, starring Gena Rowlands…[is] one of the greatest films about actors’ furious, self-revealing, and potentially self-destructive art…[it] captures with astonishment and boundless admiration the uninhibited ferocity of the art that brings life onto the screen…one of the greatest tributes ever paid by a director to an actress.” —Richard Brody, The New Yorker