Friday, January 13, 2017

Chinatown - Movie Review

The much acclaimed 1974 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, not to forget the centre of evil John Huston, is as good as it gets. I have not seen a more evil character than Huston in movies and I get what Robert McKee says - greatness is found in the writer's treatment of the negative side. The movie runs through so many plots, layers and characters and is always ahead of you which keeps you glued to the end.

It starts with a bang as all good things do. A lady hires a detective Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) to investigate her husband who is philandering. Gittes gets her pictures of the husband, who is incidentally the Chief Engineer of the Water Works department, and the girl. The pictures promptly get into the newspapers. Another woman Evelyn (Faye Dunaway) comes to Gittes and tells him that she is the real wife of the Chief Engineer and she will sue Gittes for dragging her husband's name through mud. Gittes realises he has been taken for a ride. He finds the Chief Engineer dead before he can meet him - drowned in a lake - likely suicide after the public humiliation. Soon Gittes figures that there is more to the story than he thought - the water is being let out to select parts of the valley while drought like situations continue in some, Evelyn is the daughter of John Cross an influential man who owns the water department and who seems to make Evelyn nervous. That the Chief Engineer was Cross's partner. While putting the pieces together he finds that Evelyn is actually taking care of the Chief Engineer's supposed lover, that Cross wants to pay a huge sum for Gittes to trace that girl. To make things worse Gittes and Evelyn get involved. Cross is also seemingly the beneficiary of the water department's plans.

The ending is something I have not seen or imagined ever, as layer after layer peels away and you are left stunned at the complicity of it all and the  injustice of it all. 'Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown' sums it all up. It's also life at its unjust best.

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