Wes Block is a detective who's put on the case of a serial killer whose victims are young and pretty women, that he rapes and murders. The killings are getting personal when the killer ... See full summary »
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Wes Block is a detective who's put on the case of a serial killer whose victims are young and pretty women, that he rapes and murders. The killings are getting personal when the killer chooses victims who are acquaintances of Block. Even his daughters are threatened. Written by
Tony Kessen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Flawed but fascinating film noir & Eastwood pushes to the limit his star status...
...in a dark and unsettling psychological thriller. Directed by Clint's protégé Richard Tuggle (who wrote the screenplay to the earlier Siegel-Eastwood classic ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979), the film's first half is uncertain and suffers from clichéd (albeit well staged and visualised) New Orleans locations - shady whorehouse dives, red light tinged bars and over officious police procedural rooms and locker-room banter.
The plot itself is functional but nothing special: a serial killer with a penchant for young, pretty blondes, is terrorising the city by disposing of prostitutes by strangling them and dumping the bodies all over the city. The twist in TIGHTROPE is that the killer is also dogging the footsteps of kinky cop Detective Wes Block (Eastwood), a lonely divorcée with two young children. Block eases off the shackles of a tough day job by frequenting the very same sleazy dives that his thoroughly unpleasant nemesis does.
A predictable game of cat and mouse ensues, but the film's stock film noir origins are transcended by Eastwood's continual playing with his own star status and by a very interesting exploration of his character's private obsessions and genuinely touching relationship with his two young daughters. Special mention here for real-life daughter Alison Eastwood, quite superb as the older and more perceptive girl, who clearly suspects her troubled father is up to more than just "looking for something" on his late night travels through New Orleans's seamier districts.
The more conventional opening section of TIGHTROPE is distinctly misleading, largely because about half way through, the film's most interesting character (played by the truly excellent GENEVIEVE BUJOLD) comes much more to the fore. As the feisty and fiercely intelligent Rape Crisis Center head Beryl Thibodeaux (nice use of Bujold's French-Canadian heritage here for a movie set in New Orleans!) Bujold's sharp dialogue exchanges with ultra macho Detective Wes Block-Clint Eastwood are a constant joy, and, of course, edge us deeper into film noir territory as Block's kinky sexual practise and failed marriage become the focus of the investigation.
Tuggle does a generally excellent job of keeping the material visually interesting, although he pays less attention to the minor characters, wasting a great character actor like Dan Hedaya for the role of Block's sidekick on the investigation. Overall though, this is an underrated film in the Eastwood canon and worthy of your attention. It's a slick genre piece with a surprising ability to probe the areas of Eastwood's star persona not normally explored in the Dirty Harry series.
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