Page received a BAFTA Film Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. The film received four other Oscar nominations, two for Allen's screenplay and direction, one for Stapleton as Best Actress in a Supporting Role and another for Mel Bourne and Daniel Robert for their art direction and set decoration. It is Allen's first fully-fledged film in the drama genre.
The film centers around the three children of Arthur (E. G. Marshall), a corporate attorney, and Eve (Geraldine Page), an interior decorator. Renata (Diane Keaton) is a poet whose husband Frederick, a struggling writer, feels eclipsed by her success. Flyn (Kristin Griffith) is a vain actress who is away most of the time filming; the low quality of her films is an object of ridicule behind her back. Joey (Mary Beth Hurt), who is in a relationship with Mike (Sam Waterston), cannot settle on a career, and resents her mother for favoring Renata, while Renata resents their father's concern over Joey's lack of direction.
One morning, Arthur unexpectedly announces that he wants a separation from his wife and would like to live alone. Eve, who is clinically depressed and mentally unstable, attempts suicide. The shock of these two events causes a rift between the sisters. Arthur returns from a trip to Greece with Pearl (Maureen Stapleton), a high-spirited and more "normal" woman, whom he intends to marry. His daughters are disturbed that Arthur would disregard Eve's suicide attempt and find another woman, whom Joey refers to as a "vulgarian".
Arthur and Pearl marry at Arthur and Eve's former summer home, with Renata, Joey and Flyn in attendance. Later in the evening, Joey lashes out at Pearl when Pearl accidentally breaks one of Eve's vases. In the middle of the night, Frederick drunkenly attempts to rape Flyn. Meanwhile, Joey finds Eve in the house, and somberly explains how much she has given up for her mother, and how disdainfully she is treated. Eve walks out onto the beach and into the surf. Joey attempts unsuccessfully to save Eve, but almost herself drowns in the attempt. She in turn is rescued by Mike and brought back to life by Pearl.
The film ends with the family silently attending Eve's funeral, each placing a single white rose, Eve's favourite flower and a symbol of hope to her, on Eve's wooden, perfectly polished coffin.Geraldine Page as Eve
Diane Keaton as Renata
Mary Beth Hurt as Joey
Kristin Griffith as Flyn
Richard Jordan as Frederick
E. G. Marshall as Arthur
Maureen Stapleton as Pearl
Sam Waterston as Mike
Interiors grossed $10.43 million in the United States.
Initial reviews of Interiors were mixed to positive. It currently has a 77% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 6.8/10.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "beautiful" and complimented Gordon Willis on his "use of cool colors that suggest civilization's precarious control of natural forces", but noted:
My problem with Interiors
is that although I admire the performances and isolated moments, [...] I haven't any real idea what the film is up to. It's almost as if Mr. Allen had set out to make someone else's movie, say a film in the manner of Mr. Bergman, without having any grasp of the material, or first-hand, gut feelings about the characters. They seem like other people's characters, known only through other people's art.
Richard Schickel of Time wrote that the film's "desperate sobriety ... robs it of energy and passion"; Allen's "style is Bergmanesque, but his material is Mankiewiczian, and the discontinuity is fatal. Doubtless this was a necessary movie for Allen, but it is both unnecessary and a minor embarrassment for his well-wishers."
On the other hand, Roger Ebert gave the film four stars and praised it highly, saying, "Here we have a Woody Allen film, and we're talking about O'Neill and Bergman and traditions and influences? Yes, and correctly. Allen, whose comedies have been among the cheerful tonics of recent years, is astonishingly assured in his first drama."
In 2016, Interiors was listed as Allen's 11th finest film in an article by The Daily Telegraph critics Robbie Collin and Tim Robey, who wrote that "the emotional effort being expended is cumulatively hard to shrug off" and praised Stapleton's performance.
Allen's own fears about the film's reception are recounted in a biography of Allen by Eric Lax, where he quotes Ralph Rosenblum, the film's editor:
He [Allen] managed to rescue Interiors
, much to his credit. He was against the wall. I think he was afraid. He was testy, he was slightly short-tempered. He was fearful. He thought he had a real bomb. But he managed to pull it out with his own work. The day the reviews came out, he said to me, 'Well, we pulled this one out by the short hairs, didn't we?'
Later, while watching the film with an acquaintance, Allen reportedly said "It's always been my fear. I think I'm writing Long Day's Journey into Night and it turns into Edge of Night."