Irish Film Institute -CHINATOWN



131 minutes, U.S.A., 1974, Colour, D-Cinema


While water features prominently in a number of Polanski films, particularly Knife in the Water (1962), Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966), nowhere is it more significant than in the deservedly acclaimed Chinatown.

Set in 1937 and following self-assured but flawed private investigator J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson) who becomes inadvertently embroiled in a scandal over the murder of Hollis Mulwray, chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the film gradually exposes unanticipated levels of private and political corruption in the management of this crucial resource. At the centre of all this is Faye Dunaway as Mulwray’s elusive wife, whose relationship with Gittes, and indeed all the key characters, is never quite what it seems.

Chinatown (an authentic L.A. police expression referring to those cases where it’s better to do ‘as little as possible’ than to get involved) is a dark, rewarding masterpiece.

This film is showing as part of the IFI’s Focus on Roman Polanski (January 4th – 26th).

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