“Rachel, Rachel,” December 17, 2022 (1968), DVD. Paul Newman directed, and Joanne Woodward starred as Rachel Cameron, a 35-year old unmarried elementary school teacher living with her widowed mother in an apartment above the funeral parlor her father ran. Past and present merge well as we see the creation of this repressed, loveless life through Rachel the child. Adult Rachel’s best friend, a fellow single teacher, Callie, wonderfully played by Estelle Parsons, brings Rachel to a revival meeting where Rachel’s quest for love shakes her to her very soul. What follows is a search for both emotional and physical love by someone without a real sense of how to pursue those goals.
A real progressive piece of its time in considering some of the limits and abuses women experience, including harassment at work and heartless exploiters, but this is also about a woman ‘of a certain age’ breaking free to know herself, to own her desires, and her willingness to take the risks to achieve them. Newman’s direction takes us into Rachel in an intimate way to the point that I wondered about his voyeuristic interest in Woodward’s portrayal. This one is really worth watching for Woodward’s work.