Thursday, February 1, 2018


This 1971 Alan Pakula thriller holds up amazingly well. Like many other great popular films of its era, it is gritty and dark, and it takes its time. Which is not to say that it drags. The tension steadily mounts, with a bare minimum of explicit violence, but a climactic scene of genuine terror, delivered to the audience from a reel-to-reel recording, in the spirit of such other paranoid masterpieces as The Conversation and Blow Out.

Jane Fonda is given the role of a lifetime, and she nails it, as Bree Daniels, a prostitute who revels in her power and autonomy, even as she comes to realize her vulnerability to both masculine violence and emotional surrender– i.e., falling in love. She occupies a very large percentage of the screen time, and holds our attention every single moment. She confesses all to her analyst, and we get to listen in. But Bree/Fonda demonstrates time and again that just as the whore is actor, so the actor is whore. Are we, the audience, just another john? The movie ends with Donald Sutherland, and the audience, hoping that we have earned her true love, not just her services rendered. But we can hardly complain if the relationship has been purely transactional... we definitely got our money's worth.

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