Rip Torn gives one of the great screen performances as a psychiatrist secretly filming his own mental breakdown in Milton Moses Ginsberg's classic exploration of dark eroticism and self-referential cinematic form. Anticipating the camcorder-driven diary films of today, the entire film is shot into a mirror from a single camera angle in a one-room apartment. Joe becomes a voyeur of his own reflection with the camera his only means of communication. Until finally encased in his reflection, Joe ends up filming his own disintegration.
Although entirely scripted, this fierce, frank and explicit film seems improvised. The acting is so explosive it seems uncontrolled and the sex scenes have been described as real and pornographic.In dramatic opposition to Hollywood's narrative filmmaking aesthetic, Ginsberg calls attention to the presence of the camera, abandoning cinema's "omniscent eye" for a deliberately conscious "camera eye." Truly ahead of its time, Coming Apart remains a visionary and transformative piece of American cinema.