A great movie, albeit with a confusing plot. The tension is kept alive by fantastic performances by Jack Nicholson and the hyper sensual Faye Dunaway, they don’t make women like this anymore. Roman Polanski’s direction is not as confident and polished as in later stages of his career but his signature handwriting and first and foremost his admiration for Hitchcock are more than evident in Chinatown. The locations, perspectives, chasing scenes, music and so forth are all nods to the master of suspense. The story is a tad to entangled for my taste and while it is interesting whenever it keeps in close touch with core human interests, love, family and sexuality it kind of looses its grip whenever the overload of business and political intrigue mumbo-jumbo takes over. While the core story aspects are all in place I would have arranged them differently, maybe move a few twists and climaxes forward to keep the viewer engaged. It is always good to see John Huston, although I found his performance towards the end utterly hazy and despite his character playing a key role as the axis of Dunaway’s character’s modus operandi, his character does not take part in the climax to his full potential and kind of oozes away into nothingness between the scramble that is the final scene.
The costumes, soundtrack, set design are all spot on, a given in Polanski films. All in all, a great film featuring a hell-raising last 15 minutes. The awkward and wooden script lets it down a bit.