Laughter In The Pain (Film Thoughts: Only When I Laugh)

I was probably only fifteen years old when I saw ‘Only When I Laugh,’ and I remember loving the film, although I don’t remember much about the film, except that Marsha Mason and Krosty McNichol played mother and daughter, and that Mason’s character was a stage actress. I remember I was enamored by the idea of Broadway as a kid, but at the time I wasn’t living in New York yet, so the whole film felt very aspirational to me.

I just saw it again and, well, I still liked a loot of it, but now more for nostalgic reasons. First, it was nice to see the New York of early 80s. I moved there in 1984 and more or less, the city depicted here is more or less what I arrived to. The performances are still great – Mason is electric, of course, but now a lot of it seems stagey, and some scenes I felt were designed to showcase her. McNichol seems very baby dykey and that’s a compliment – I adored her as a teenager. Neil Simon’s storyline feels thin, and I could see this probably worked better on stage. But still, the film is a nice capsule of the times they were living in, and sometimes I wish I could go back there.

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