Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Klute. A-

You won't find many thrillers that bear the style of Klute, from director Alan J. Paqula. The movie focuses both on a strange missing person case and the relationship between a quiet private eye named Klute (Donald Sutherland) and a loquacious prostitute named Bree (Jane Fonda). The connection between them is formed when Klute contacts Bree about the disappearance of a man who apparently had sent a series of secret love letters to her. At first Bree is reluctant, but soon she begins to grow fond of Klute and agrees to help him. The case, as expected, develops into a convoluted hunt for names and associations that might help solve the disappearance. Yet Paqula is just as interested in the development of Klute and Bree as he is in the plot. Bree seems content with her job, but we soon learn that she wants to escape it and the things that haunt her. She sees a shrink and we learn a lot about her feelings and who she is as a person. In contrast, we don't find out very much about Klute, but we don't need to. He's the detective who's focus is on bringing the man home. But he also feels sympathy for Bree and allows himself to enter into her life. Despite his minimal dialogue, Sutherland is able to tell us about Klute through manner and facial expression. He's a man devoted to his work, but through it has a human side, as indicated by his attraction to Bree. Sutherland was great, but the film's brightest spot-and only real claim to fame-is the the work done by Jane Fonda. Unlike Sutherland, she gives a very vocal performance, but it's restrained just enough to keep it from becoming too melodramatic. She ended up winning the Academy Award for her role. This, like The Vanishing, doesn't follow convention, and that's its greatest strength. The thriller is a very predictable genre, and that this one isn't just shows how unique it really is.

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