Director: Alan J. Pakula
Year Released: 1971
Alan Pakula's experimental 'detective' story comes across as more about camera movement and shading and mood than plot, character, suspense, etc. I got the feeling Pakula - who was a very good director - was influenced by Godard for this movie, and especially the way Godard would 'break apart' the medium, reassembling it, rejuvenating it. But this is mostly a so-so thriller, one that neither stirs nor excites, nor shocks, and, after its over, and one devotes a minute amount of thought into understanding, is mostly illogical (the 'bad guy' suffers from Ebert's Fallacy of the Talking Killer and explains everything in the last scene; the man missing in the film is never found and no one seems to care). Fonda - the film's redeeming aspect - is brooding, garrulous and emotionally cruel (odd for a cinematic prostitute) and won an Oscar for her performance. Donald Sutherland, the detective, is left with scenes in which he looks around, turns his head and is generally taciturn. Why couldn't the screenwriters have given him a few good lines?