Looking for Mr. Goodbar is not about finding a candy bar.
Diane Keaton gives us an outstanding, fearless performance. Remember Mr. Goodbar was released the same year Keaton won an Oscar for her role in “Annie Hall.” I find it difficult to believe that Keaton was the same actress in both Mr. Goodbar and in Annie Hall. She pulls off a multi-layered, charismatic performance that you don’t see often in an adult movie.
By day Keaton plays an affectionate teacher with her deaf kids. At night, however, she turns into the proverbial Mr. Hyde, cruising bars, having sex with many different types of men, leading a promiscuous and seedy life which ends violently. Indeed, one gets the sense that she actually derives more and more pleasure as the sex-act, the drugs, or the situations become more and more dangerous.
Mr. Goodbar also features early performances by Tom Berringer and Richard Gere–who plays similar characters in the classics “American Gigolo” and “Breathless.”
It would be a crude oversimplification to regard this movie as a romanticized walk down memory lane for the wild 1970’s. It is a much more complex insight into various characters against the backdrop of the disco era. At the time, the country was in a transitional phase where the Vietnam war had just ended and the momentum of the 1960’s had faded away. It was a time of high unemployment, rampant drugs and not enough social support for the needy. For better or for worse, a new reality was right around the corner as the Reagan era would be born taking the country in a whole different direction and this movie captures it perfectly.
This is a Rose for the ages.