Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Ford we trust

Sorry for the hiatus on Polanski posts. I've been watching "Twin Peaks" on DVD, venturing outside, and being otherwise distracted/occupied.
Not that I think you've been holding your breath in anticipation, dear readers. I'm just stating the facts.

In 1988 Polanski teamed up with one of cinema's most bankable stars, Mr. Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford. This was a wise casting choice given that the film Frantic rests squarely on the shoulders of the lead actor to carry, as Polanski's films often do.
Harrison Ford is a master of subtlety. He's not the over-acting leading man of Mel Gibson's or Tom Cruise's ilk. You only catch him screaming or blubbering when it's truly called for. In the meantime, he's kicking ass and taking names.

Frantic tells the story of Dr. Richard Walker who's visiting Paris with his wife. She mysteriously disappears, and he must search for her, frantically (yeah, I went there. Deal with it.). The police are of little help, the language barrier complicates things, and with every passing moment Richard feels the situation become more sinister, and more dire.

The cinematography and lighting in this film support the building tension nicely. Paris' underbelly is exposed, gritty and garish. This is not a tourism picture. It's what the TV show "Locked Up Abroad" tries so hard to be. Frantic turns the glamourous Paris into a dark and frustrating puzzle that Richard is determined to unlock, though his hands are shaking and sweaty. However, don't expect a frantic, action movie pace. This is a thriller, but not a thrill ride. Polanski builds tension slowly and methodically. Look for his cameo as a taxi driver.

Emmanuelle Seigner (Polanski's wife) turns in a great performance as Richard's unlikely ally, a street punk girl who's gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd. Seiger has a magnetic charm that steals every scene she's in. A quality that is excellent in Frantic, but failed to save The Ninth Gate.

The best parts of this movie are when Richard is trying to get help from the unflappable French police or US Embassy. They are calm, and trying to calm him, and his frustration is palpable.

-- Noel
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®


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