Private investigator Philip Marlowe helps a friend out of a jam, but in doing so gets implicated in his wife's murder.Private investigator Philip Marlowe helps a friend out of a jam, but in doing so gets implicated in his wife's murder.Private investigator Philip Marlowe helps a friend out of a jam, but in doing so gets implicated in his wife's murder.
Hailed as a classic, this film is actually a bit of hard work crossed with cool style in a plot that gets somewhere but seems to take a long time and a million back roads to get there. It won't be to everyone's tastes as a result because, even though I quite liked it, I must confess that the narrative is hard to follow and hard to particularly care much about. The wit of it is watching Marlowe updated a device that will annoy as many as it pleases. In Gould's laidback and shabby detective we have the opposite of the tough and snappy detectives of the genre, but it sits well within the modern setting of the modern generation (as was) with its hedonism and fads. This is interesting but not the same as a good detective story, which sadly this isn't. If you're not won over by the overall approach then it is unlikely that you will find a lot more to fill the time.
Altman's direction is focused on the style and, although he is fairly respectful to the material in regards what happens, he doesn't go out of his way to make it engaging. Gould fits the role well and enjoys his character. I would have liked more of the complexity underneath to come through to contrast with this surface. He is the film but he is well supported by a hammy show from Sterling and solid turns from Rydell, Pallandt, Gibson and Bouton.
Overall then a difficult film to really like. It has enough of its own style to be interesting but not enough of a hook in the narrative to please a mass audience. Altman's hands are all over the film and I understand why some viewers don't like it for that reason. Not one for those looking for a gripping detective story, but still interesting.
- bob the moo
- Feb 17, 2007