reviews (a to z)# a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

home :: latest reviews :: reviewer profiles :: statistics :: diary :: links

Chinatown (1974)

  Directed by: Roman Polanski
Written by: Roman Polanski, Robert Towne
Starring: Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Jack Nicholson
Links: Chinatown on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Chinatown (1974) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

"Forget it, Marge, it's Chinatown!" - a review by em_fiction

Chinatown is a film-noir about a twisted case being unfolded by private detective Jake Gittes (a handsome Jack Nicholson). At first, it's merely adultery, then it becomes murder, and then before he realises it, Gittes is uncovering a plot involving cheap land and Los Angeles' reservoirs. Of course, no film-noir would be complete without a femme fatale: Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), in this case, the wife of the murder victim; a strange, mild-mannered and utterly mysterious woman.

Some 'classics', like 12 Angry Men (1957), do well with contemporary audiences, while others, like The Third Man (1949), don't do so well. Chinatown is a film that doesn't do so well. It's definitely not one of those universally loved classics like The Shawshank Redemption (1994) which you can immediately sink your teeth into.

A big reason why I believe it's not for everybody is because Chinatown takes its time with everything. I mean, really takes its time. If you're just slightly impatient with your films, then the pace will definitely get to you. It's not really the patience factor, but more the followability factor. It's quite torturous in the fact that you have to bear with the slowness to follow the extremely intricate plot, and if you don't pay full attention, you're basically stuffed in terms of 'getting it', and there goes another classic discarded. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good film, but it's very choosy with its audience.

The great thing about Chinatown is the way it epitomises the perfect film-noir. The plot unfolds with plenty of intrigue and mystery, albeit slowly; the characters all have that cool film-noir-esque shadiness, particularly Nicholson who gives a great performance; there are plenty of twists throughout to keep you watching, although you might have to be a little patient and attentive. The standard film-noir plotting works well, but it definitely takes more than one viewing to fully grasp. The facts aren't purposely obscured into undecipherable crap like a David Lynch film; they're just not obvious and can be missed just like that.

The filmmaking side of Chinatown is practically flawless. It's similar to Mulholland Dr. (2001) in that if you're not up for following the plot, the atmospheric value (maybe not as much the aesthetic value) can act as some sort of consolation. A lot of people will disagree with that. As I said earlier, Jack Nicholson gives a fantastic and memorable performance, developing this very slick detective quality about him. Faye Dunaway is also great (sorry, but that's as elaborate as I'll be), as are the rest of the actors including Roman Polanski who has a short role as a knife-wielding maniac. Chinatown was also his last US based film before that statutory rape stuff — just a little trivia.

I don't want to sound pretentious or anything, but I 'got it' when I first saw it (with plenty of rewinding throughout), and I really did enjoy it. It really is just aimed at big film buff film-noir Roman Polanski-lovin' geeks, but if you insist on watching it and are afraid you won't pick up on everything, there is a huge and lurid twist towards the end which could probably be picked up by a retarded chimpanzee. And I guarantee you it will be enough to satiate any viewer.

em_fiction gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 23 Dec 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 1
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. its good

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Mangel on Tue 10 May 2005 01:17 #

  2. very good

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from mangel on Tue 10 May 2005 01:18 #

  3. I know ive seen it, it is very good! lol

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from dave on Tue 10 May 2005 01:18 #

  4. its ok i guess

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from john Mcray on Tue 10 May 2005 01:19 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.75 (4 ratings)

Add a comment

Your name:
Email address:
Make public?
Anti-Spam question:To prove you're not a horrible spam-leaving robot, please answer the following question (use numbers):
If I have 9 Best Supporting Actress Oscars and win 4 more Best Supporting Actress Oscars, how many Best Supporting Actress Oscars do I have?
Rate this movie:

You may use the <em>emphasis</em> and <strong>strong emphasis</strong> HTML tags. URLs beginning with ‘http://’ will be turned into links. Line breaks will display as entered.