As with any Jack Nicholson film, I went in with high hopes – it didn’t hurt that Rotten Tomatoes had rated it 98% as well. I am very sorry to say that I was massively disappointed.
About twenty minutes into the film, I was still neutral. * Ultimately, I became invested in the story, which is interesting and well written, but the film still struck me as pretty horrible. The reason is simple: Faye Dunaway sucks the life out of this movie. At first, there is a lack of sincerity and drama from her character, Evelyn, (which appears to be intentional). Then, when she does become dramatic, it is poorly done and hard to watch. Even Jack Nicholson couldn’t make up for her shortcomings. **
Bad acting alone is enough to ruin any movie with a decent storyline, but when I began to break this down further I saw that there was not much offered on the side of suspense either. The music, the timing -really the cinematography in general- was all sub-par.
Obviously I am grossly outnumbered by fantastic reviews surrounding this film, so I am more than open to being enlightened on precisely what it is I am missing. One note: If you are about to tell me that I somehow lack the ability to appreciate a classical private-eye film, please understand that I most certainly do not. I thoroughly enjoyed many such films that stretch from the Thirties forward, which were masterfully done with far fewer resources than Roman Polanski had during the making of this film.
* This is a nice way to say I was not impressed.
** On a Jack Nicholson note: was he great? Sure. But this was still far from his best work.