The ‘70s seemed to be a ripe era for screwball comedies centering around the neurotic sex life of the common man. However, “I Will, I Will… for Now” manages to make a sexual farce with no laughs or nudity, which makes one wonder what was going on in the mind of the cast and crew in this strange piece of cinema from 1976.
The picture starts with Katie Bingham (Diane Keaton) and her adoring boyfriend, Lou Springer (Paul Sorvino), discussing the possibility of marriage. Springer is head over heels for Bingham, but she doesn’t seem to care for him in the same way. The love of her life is actually her cheating ex-husband Les Bingham, who is played with a certain boyish charm by Elliott Gould.
Springer complicates the situation by proposing marriage to Katie, who never gives him a direct answer. Instead, she decides to enter into a legal contract with Les for five years in order to work out the kinks in their relationship, which includes the stipulation that if it doesn’t work out, both parties will agree not to renew it. The premise is set up, and everybody in the audience realizes they are stuck watching neurotic rich people with nothing but time to spare. The only problem is the dialogue is not as witty as the early work of Woody Allen, making the entire film an endurance match to sit through.
In fact, once this premise is put forth on screen, you can’t help but wonder what kind of people wouldn’t give up and spare themselves 90 minutes of pain. The film doesn’t even take the time to draw out these one-dimensional characters.
A prime example: Shortly after Springer proposes to Katie, she accepts the Les’ invite to consider the marriage again. No word is mentioned to Springer until they go to him to have a draft of the marriage contract made. The character of Springer should be outraged if they wanted to better develop these characters, but they don’t, and the character decides to wait out the contract. Not one explanation is ever made from Katie to Springer, and one wonders what the attraction between these characters is exactly.
This film is the skeleton in Keaton’s closet, and it is hard to imagine why she would ever accept a one-dimensional role like this. The year was 1976, which makes this shortly after her work in the “Godfather” saga and one year prior to her Oscar-winning performance in “Annie Hall.” If a DVD of this picture is ever released, a commentary track with Keaton would be great in clearing up this odd mystery in her career.
Gould on the other hand never returned to the success of “MASH,” and seems to have been slumming it ever since. There’s no mystery to his appearance here – the real mystery is why did he appear in the Corey Feldman-directed sex picture, “Busted?”
The only actor that comes out with his toes still tapping is Sorvino, who despite some poor writing does his best. He even allows the audience to hear his operatic voice, which would have given him a backup career if acting did not work out for him.
Of course, that one saving grace is not enough with the sloppy direction of Norman Panama. Scenes go from day to night in the span of a minute and then back to day. He builds a structure of the film based on unfunny comedy that just falls flat. The saddest part is that he managed to make sex a boring subject for a motion picture.
The jokes are often repeated in the hopes that reputation equals laughter, and the denouement involves Les and Katie ending up in the wrong rooms at the sex clinic, where mistaken identity and confusion occur.
Feel free to roll your eyes now and realize the only reason to rent this picture is if you are a masochist.
“I Will, I Will… for Now” is only interesting to fans of Keaton and to see the one whopper of a mistake that she made early in her career. However, you have to admit that “I Will, I Will… for Now” is still better than some of her more recent work.