Outstreched arm

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Et tu, Klute?

Klute is a slow, simple story told in minimalist manner by Alan J. Pakula, and to me it seemed similar in tone to Three Days of the Condor, though it's far less action-packed. Donald Sutherland plays the titular character, a small-town man of quiet, bland integrity. He is searching for a long-missing friend in sinful New York City, and the only clue he can pursue is the call girl Bree (Jane Fonda at her absolute best). Soon, she and the people around her become targets of following and, eventually, murder.

The investigation never really develops into anything meaningful, its chief result being Klute's repulsion at Bree's social circle's hedonism, which he ends up giving in to in a small way. However, the movie could (should?) have been named Bree, as Sutherland's character stretches the limits of audience empathy with his statuesque firmness, while Fonda slides up and down the emotional scale, showing her finest subtle touches in scenes at her psychiatrist's, and in the final confrontation with the killer. Her clumsy explanation of why she does what she does and why she doesn't know how or if to lead a 'normal' life - or what that means - is honest because of its incompleteness.

Another strong performance is I-won't-say-whose turn as the sadistic murderer. He's no Lecter, since he hasn't that over-the-top charisma; he's no Lorre in M, since he's not as pathetic; he's a dangerously rational and aware psychopath.

As far as the visuals, there are many tightly orchestrated, underexposed scenes, perhaps a bit claustrophobic on the small screen, but beautifully framed. Fonda is an eye magnet, so you may not notice much else when she's in sight.

Overall, solid, confident, adult filmmaking.

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