FrankieSays’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is it, friends. I can go and die now. As far as I'm concerned, I've seen THE perfect film noir to ever exist in the annals of mankind's immense reservoir of films - and frankly, I don't think I ever want to live after this. No, wait, scratch that. Please, Lord, let me live, if only to give me the opportunity to see this film again.
Who cares if Roman Polanski liked the little children a little too much? He's in top form here and his sexual preferences can go take a backseat to this masterpiece. Separate the man in this movie from the man he really is outside of it, and you'll save your sanity. Plus, he stands as the only man who can cut Jack Nicholson in the nose and get away with it. Whatta guy.
John Huston, getting less than twenty minutes of air time here? So? He's the most villainous villain I've ever had the honor to set eyes on and everything's a little bit darker because of it. That wasn't a complaint, mind you.
So what if Faye Dunaway isn't on the silver screen as much as she used to? She's great in here, effortlessly matching her co-stars punch for punch, and still manages to come out looking like a winner even if she loses.
And Jack Nicholson, old and fat and pudgy? So the fuck what? Just look at him in here! Striding about, flapping his lips about how much he knows, and yet, getting a slice in the nose for his trouble. And see how that little setback doesn't bother him none. Now that's a real man's man actor if I ever saw one.
Me, not giving 5 stars for movies, because I haven't really seen the perfect movie? Screw that. If I could give this more than 5 stars, I would. Chinatown = Perfection. That's the only formula you'll ever really need in this vast, vast world of moviemaking.
Best watched spoiler-free, so as to preserve that magical feeling of solving the mystery along with your main character. But I have to admit, seeing this with my film nut brother was a huge plus - besides knowing when to shut up about major plot points, he was also kind enough to point out how all the major clues here got accompanied by mentions or sights of water.
I'm an ignorant movie viewer. My mind isn't sharp enough to pick up on these things. So, yeah, you can thank my brother for making me give my first 5 star rating on this site.