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The Man Who Envied Women

Film still from Yvonne Rainer’s „The Man Who Envied Women“. A women leans on a table, while she kisses a man who is holding her. On the table there is a wooden duck in a bucket and a ladle. In the room in the background there are bookshelves and armchairs.
© Yvonne Rainer
  • Director

    Yvonne Rainer

  • USA / 1985
    125 min. / Original version with German subtitles

  • Original language


Around a familiar theme—the breakup of a marriage—Yvonne Rainer constructs a wickedly funny account of the self-satisfied womanizer, Jack Deller. Sitting in a chair facing the camera, he rambles on about women, whose visual absence runs through the entire film. On the soundtrack we hear their questions and comments, by turns enraged or laconic, both stressing and also subverting Deller’s self-assured discourse. The location and the vanishing points of his often ridiculous speech are increasingly cast into doubt. In the opening scene he seems to be speaking to his analyst from a chair, (“Doctor, I'll tell you all you want to know about my sex life.”), then he is speaking in front of a screen where film clips are projected. Deller’s character is divided between two performers, thus doubling the problem case. The spoken words are taken from texts found in film and everyday culture, from poststructuralist, psychoanalytic, and feminist theory. Aside from the theme of the failed (heterosexual) relationship, further fields of conflict get explored—the housing shortage and gentrification in New York during the 1980s, abortion rights, the violent interventions of the US in Latin America. A never-ending collage made up of contradictory levels of meaning results in producing ever new connections and contexts. “Rainer is not trying for some kind of well-mannered correctness or a masterly, fatherly notion of ‘transcendent intellectual clarity’; rather, she tends toward a type of tumbling process, an unbalancing of power, language, and the body.” (Barbara Kruger, Artforum 1986)

Production Yvonne Rainer. Director Yvonne Rainer. Screenplay Yvonne Rainer. Cinematography Mark Daniels. Editing Yvonne Rainer, Christine Le Goff. Sound Helene Kaplan. Assistant director Christine Le Goff. With Jackie Raynal, Anne Friedberg, Larry Loonin, Trisha Brown.

World sales Kino Lorber

Yvonne Rainer is an American choreographer, dancer, and filmmaker. A pioneering figure of the American avant-garde movement with a career spanning over five decades across dance and film, Rainer’s artistic work has emphasized minimalism and experimentalism and has challenged conventional form to explore subversive political and social themes. Rainer’s genre-defining work and collaboration with other artists has earned her a MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and three Rockefeller Fellowships, among other accolades. She is widely regarded as one of the most influential performance artists of the twentieth century. Rainer is professor emeritus at the University of California, Irvine and currently lives and works in New York.

Films: 1972: Lives of Performers (90 min.). 1974: Film About a Woman Who... (105 min.). 1976: Kristina Talking Pictures (90 min.). 1980: Journeys from Berlin/1971 (125 min.). 1985: The Man Who Envied Women. 1990: Privilege (103 min.). 1996: MURDER and murder (113 min.).

Bonus Material

  • Film still from Yvonne Rainer’s „The Man Who Envied Women“. A woman leans into the picture from the left side and looks frontally at the camera. In the background a bookshelf.


    Excperts from an interview by Mitchell Rosenbaum with Yvonne Rainer from 1989

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