Klute Movie Review

If you want proof at how a great cinematographer can make an average movie better, rent Klute, the 1971 mystery starring Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. Nobody utilizes the dark better than Gordon Willis. He used it in Manhattan to establish a romantic mood, and in Klute (as he later did in 1993's Malice) it adds an element of terror that a weak storyline never provides.

In her Academy Award winning performance, Fonda plays troubled New York City call girl Bree Daniel, who finds herself in the middle of an investigation by small-town private eye John Klute (Sutherland). Klute's businessman friend has been missing for months, and he thinks Bree is at the center of it. As the lanky detective investigates, he gets involved in a sordid web of murder and with Bree, who uses sex as a way to assert herself over her array of insecurities.

Screenwriters Andy Lewis and Dave Lewis do a fine job in establishing Bree as a woman confused by her priorities. One minute she's running into the arms of her former pimp (a pre-Jaws Roy Scheider); the next, she's looking for stability in Klute. The movie has little to offer after Bree's emotional state: Sutherland plays his role with no emotional give, and though he does a good job, it's hard to figure out his relationship with the city and with Bree. Klute also loses points for not only presenting the identity of the killer halfway through, but with no sense of drama. The movie then futilely proceeds with more clues and more victims. It's like watching a race where you already know the winner.

However, Klute is worth a look for Fonda, who finally became an actress with this role. Her performance is credible, but there are times where she emotes to the cheap seats. For me, I like how she wears an assortment of Mod outfits and sports a sort of female mullet, quite a far cry from the glamorous woman who started an exercise craze and married a TV tycoon.

Seriously, though, the real treat of Klute is its camera work and lighting, when Pakula and Willis mix the secret, forbidden worlds of lust and terror. A stunning scene comes when Bree seduces a client in his darkened office, as Klute bristles with unease. And don't get me started on when Fonda sleeps alone... It's just a shame a movie with so much visual superiority gets hampered by an inferior script.

The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes documentary.

Cast & Crew

Director : Alan J. Pakula

Producer : Alan J. Pakula


Klute Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1971


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