Friday, June 18, 2010

The Two Jakes

Jake Gittes is a successful private detective. He has seen it all. He is cynical about life, sardonic about relationships: he is also insightful and sensitive. Corruption surrounds the world he inhabits, but, miraculously, it has not completely corroded his soul. As he says "In a town of lepers, I am the one with the most fingers."

And that, in this world, is both his strength and his Achilles Heel.

And this multi-layered man makes The Two Jakes a film-noir thriller with more than a mere thrill.

What seems like an open-and-shut case of marital infidelity and rage-murder, suddenly starts getting complex when a recording of the conversations of the adulterous wife and murdered man reveal a name which is right out of the tortured past of our detective Jake. Suddenly, there opens up a mystery - and an old wound.

As Jake delves in deeper, the reasons and the stakes turn out to be murkier. As Jake says, with irrepressible profundity: "Nine times out of ten, if you follow the money you will get to the truth."

But the greater mystery involves Jake's past: "You can't forget the past, anymore than you can change it." And as much as he let's his loins dictate what he does ("Put your ass up in the air: I am trying to be a gentleman here"), he gives in to the debilitating effect of remembrance ("Memories are like that: as unpredictable as nitro. You never know what will set them up.")

In the end, the thriller comes out with a trill of the heart. Rogues are secret heroes and self-annihilation is ultimately a noble sacrifice.

Complex, though languorous; intricately plotted, though sometimes overwrought; atmospheric, though under-directed at times; lush and beautifully scored, one cannot go wrong with a film where the adulterous woman totally refutes being an accomplice in premeditated murder by saying "I was honestly unfaithful".

~ Sunil Bhandari
June 9th, 2010
Sent on my BlackBerry

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