The 'Klute' Salute

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Stephen_M, Jul 27, 2002.

  1. Stephen_M

    Stephen_M Agent

    Jan 30, 2001
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    Caught this 1971 gem on HBO Signature last night (P&S version alas) and was very very impressed again. The whole movie is so much in its own unique style that I doubt it would get made nowadays (alas, so many films of the 70's would also fall into that category).
    Pakula's direction is quiet and understated. He wrings suspense with patience - so many scenes, the take is held a second, five seconds longer than you expect. Shadows. Long views of characters seen from afar. A hack director would try to evoke reactions with a quick jump cut and a loud orchestral exclamation or clear indication - by the flash of an arm or face - that someone is indeed watching.
    None of that here. The suspense is wrung out from the character's belief - and ultimately, the audience's belief - that someone has to be watching because you can feel it, you can hear it. Blair Witch I had the right idea in its heart - that the sounds and the darkness can be scarier when you don't know what awaits you.
    The climax features two characters listening to a tape. That's it. The shot is a couple of minutes long and you sit there, skin crawling and the tension grows slowly and suffocatingly. The whole final sequence in the office is one of the great sequences in modern suspense.
    The film also features great performances by Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. Fonda has never been better - though she still has that hard-edged actressy voice, all other elements or her acting are on-target. It's a real kick, also, to see Roy Scheider - Mr. Wonder Bread Middle America - protraying a pimp. A pimp! [​IMG]
    The film is not perfect - the mystery is no mystery really. The film is almost all mood, characters, and athmosphere. That alone drags the film by about ten minutes too long. But, no matter. We'll never see a big studio produce anything similar in our lifetime - (I can only think of Someone to Watch Over Me as close - and that wasn't that close). I heartily recommend all serious film lovers to check Klute out on DVD and take in a first-rate suspense film that doesn't assault the viewer.
    I'd be interested in other reactions to this film.
  2. Luc D

    Luc D Second Unit

    Apr 29, 2000
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    You're right, this film wouldn't get made today. A murder mystery where the filmmakers obviously couldn't care less about the mystery. The film is about two lonely people.

    The drama doesn't come from the murders but from the characters, and although many people see this "lack" of drama as a fault I think it's the film's biggest strength (aside from the acting). It doesn't pander to audience expectations and doesn't really follow the murder mystery/thriller formula and most importantly it lets the actors work!

    First and foremost Klute is an actors movie. Usually I don't care at all for Fonda but she's really terrific in this film as is Sutherland (but he's always good).
  3. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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    Well, I'm glad you enjoyed the film, but you really haven't seen this movie if you've only seen it in P&S.
    Gordon Willis's cinematography is terrific and adds much to the film as a whole. And considering the film has an OAR of 2.35:1, you've lost quite a bit on TV.
    For more on this aspect of the movie, check out PatrickL's excellent write up on the cinematography of Klute in this thread.

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