Lawrence Russell

Frantic (1988) dir. Roman Polanski writ. Polanski and Gerard Brach star. Harrison Ford (Dr. Walker), Emmanuelle Seiguer (Michelle)

This is more or less a generic flick in the B-movie thriller idiom -- like, say, the classic Maltese Falcon (John Huston 1941). Altho' it's set in Paris, it downplays the inward gloom of the film noir in favour of a more glossy upbeat atmosphere reminiscent of, say, late Hitchcock films like North By Northwest or Vertigo.

There's not a lot one can say about it except that Polanski has controlled his bestial urges considerably in order to make a good commercial film. Perhaps the beginning is too slow with its 'real time' scenes in the Palace Hotel; it might be argued, though, that this helps create tension.

There's one murder and one sex scene very much in the Polanski idiom, and the female lead is another Sharon Tate clone dolled up like a sex toy from Helmut Newton's classic photographic folio, White Women.

Israeli and Arab agents battle it out for an atomic 'trigger' which has been smuggled out of the USA in a model of the Statue of Liberty... and due to a luggage mixup at Orly airport, Dr. Walker of San Francisco -- in town to give a paper and enjoy a 'second honeymoon' -- finds his wife kidnapped and himself at the centre of an international intrigue....

Sound familiar?

© LR 14/3/88


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