Directed by Alan J. Pakula • Written by Andy Lewis, David Lewis.
With Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi and Roy Scheider.
With the help of an eerie score by Michael Small, a scuzzy-looking vision of early 1970’s New York and suspenseful direction by Alan J. Pakula, Klute is a taut, sharply written thriller – the first of Pakula’s so called “paranoia trilogy“.
The plot set-up hinges on the disappearance of an otherwise regular family man, and the ensuing investigation by Private Eye, John Klute (Donald Sutherland). The trail leads him directly to a Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), an aspiring actress with a sideline in prostitution.
Klute is a dark-looking film, capturing a bleak and unsettling vision of a tired, unloving city. There’s a sense of unease with the surroundings, that somehow, this isn’t a place you’d lay your hat, and if you did, you’d keep one eye open at night.
In his title role, Donald Sutherland gives a restrained, yet sure and natural performance, which compliments Jane Fonda’s strong portrayal of an intelligent, sexy, yet emotionally fenced-in woman at the centre of the mystery. Fonda’s performance earned her the leading actress Academy Award in 1971, and it’s plain to see why. There’s something captivating about her, not least due to a streetwise veneer of impressively worn confidence that suits her perfectly, as does her eye-catching wardrobe. You can believe that she is the sort of woman who could trigger infatuation, in a certain kind of man.
Beautifully played, thanks in part to a gem of an original screenplay by Andy and Dave Lewis, Klute is a perfect late-night thriller, packed with intrigue and weaving corridors of character complexity. A love story with the brakes on. A (semi) hard-boiled mystery with a hint of erotic spice. A very good film. 4/5