Netflix This: An Unmarried Woman
By Eva Medoff, August 9th, 2010
If you were born after 1978, the year An Unmarried Woman came out, then chances are you haven’t even heard of it. And yet, in some ways, you have. If you’ve ever seen any movie about a divorcée, a middle-aged, single woman or a group of friends liberated by their own independence, then you’ve seen bits and pieces of An Unmarried Woman. But more than the story of a woman whose husband leaves her for a younger woman (which it is), the movie is also a quintessential New York film, marveling in the street-scapes and the pulse of the city nearly as much as its characters. A predecessor to Sex and the City? You could sat that.
The story follows Erica Benton (Jill Clayburgh), an Upper East Side woman left by her Wall Street husband who gets sad, gets angry and gets over it, at about the same time she embraces rather downtown mores. Erica is surrounded by a close-knit group of mostly divorced female friends, who deal with singledom in varied ways: Elaine sleeps around, and Jeannette sleeps with 19-year-olds. To Erica, the sexual revolution of the 70s is completely foreign (perhaps to some movie-goers too: the movie’s frank treatment of sex was quite controversial upon its release), but as she adjusts to thinking of herself as “Erica” instead of “Erica and Martin,” she’s able to realize her own personal goals. One is working full-time at the art gallery where she was once a part-time assistant, and the other is conducting an affair with a British artist. For a snapshot of late 70s culture and, of course, fashion (Erica rocks a camel-colored cape that could have been shown on the Fall 2010 runways), An Unmarried Woman is the original single girl’s guide to life in New York.