Losing Ground is the portrait of Sara, a Black philosophy professor in New York City, as she drifts apart from her husband, a successful painter. The film oscillates between their two worlds. Sara’s: ordered, intellectual, passionate but bookish. And her husband’s: chaotic, wandering, playful, egoic.
Both spend the film, in a way, seeking the meaning of ecstasy. Sara, in the library, literally researches a history of ecstatic experience. Her husband walks with pad in hand eager to happen upon artistic inspiration, always in the form of a beautiful woman.
The film offers no easy answers, no reduction of what it means when two married people have developed worlds of their own that somehow – intentionally or not, cruelly or not – no longer fit each other. It leaves the pain and complications bare, unresolved, with nuance intact.
In 1982, Losing Ground was the first feature-length drama to be directed by a Black woman since the 1920s and remains one of the rare films to explore the inner lives of successful Black artists and intellectuals.