CinemaClown’s review published on Letterboxd:
A classic example of its genre(s) that packs in a taut screenplay which is seamlessly transitioned on the film canvas by a skilled filmmaker in complete control of his craft and is further bolstered by strong performances from its entire cast, Chinatown is considered by many to be one of the best offerings in the mystery genre and it is indeed difficult to dispute its legacy.
Inspired from true events, the story of Chinatown is set in Los Angeles and follows a private detective specialising in matrimonial cases who's hired by a woman to investigate & confirm her suspicion of her husband having an affair but soon finds himself caught in a bigger web when his client turns out to be an impersonator. As he digs deeper into the case to find out who set him up, he uncovers a plot involving deceit, corruption & murder.
Directed by Roman Polanski (best known for Rosemary's Baby & The Pianist), Chinatown is expertly crafted with thorough attention given to its setting & timeline, while the plot unfolds in a controlled manner. Robert Towne's script is a highlight too that's completely focused on its lead character without discarding the secondary ones. The technical aspects are skilfully carried out while Jerry Goldsmith's score is beautiful, poignant & haunting at the same time.
The cast comprises of Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Hillerman & others, with all of them turning in with committed performances in their given roles. Nicholson is excellent as the private investigator, plays his character with finesse, and is present in virtually every single scene. Dunaway also puts up a strong show that goes neck to neck with Nicholson's work. And the film is at its best when the screen is shared by Nicholson & Dunaway for their chemistry just works.
On an overall scale, Chinatown doesn't do much wrong with its narrative over the course of its runtime and yet I have no clue as to why it didn't work out for me. Polanski's no-nonsense direction, Towne's polished screenplay & Nicholson's brilliant work are no doubt admirable but the whole experience of sitting through it was also pretty stale, even in moments of big reveal including the soul-shattering climax. One of those rare flicks that I admire more than I love, Chinatown is still full of surprises for newcomers and comes recommended.