3 October 2015 | moonspinner55
Strange indeed, and slow moving...but worthwhile if you have the patience
Mrs. Oliver, a modern-day lawyer's wife in her late 20s, suffering under the oppressive thumb of her husband--who seems to like her spinsterish, her hair in a tight bun, etc.--is having an identity crisis. She tries on a blonde wig with red lipstick and hoop earrings one afternoon while shopping and feels like a different woman; turns out this alter-ego bears a striking resemblance to a sexy woman named Sandy, who lived at the beach and but disappeared five years prior. Karen Black was on a horror movie roll in 1977, having had great successes with the TV-made "Trilogy of Terror" (written by this film's author, Richard Matheson) and the theatrical screamer, "Burnt Offerings". "Mrs. Oliver", also a TV-movie, has echoes of both, but is nearly weighed down by its red herrings (a curious dream, a flashback to a fire, a painting). Director Gordon Hessler sets a peculiar, almost surreal tone that initially grips the viewer, but Matheson overloads the plot; since Hessler's pacing is so methodical, there's too much going on at too slow a pace. Black is very good (if too old for her role), and George Hamilton does fine as her colorless husband (not the condescending sonuvabitch you may expect, but a workaholic with no interesting qualities). The finale wraps things up sufficiently, so "Mrs. Oliver" isn't a disappointment, exactly. But it's more spooky/romantic than suspenseful and scary, and perhaps that is why it has failed to acquire the type of following Black's other projects have.