iksvecjart’s review published on Letterboxd:
The biggest lesson I learnt from this attempt at watching "Chinatown" is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot possibly assess a movie you've been watching while tired. I tried watching this one about a week ago while exhausted, and as you would expect, it didn't work. I was half asleep and I ended up stopping the film half an hour in to take a nap. And now I'm here today, having watched this piece of perfection from Roman Polanski from beginning to end, and at no point was I bored. How could you be? It's a stunning mystery which leads us from the heart of Los Angeles to the depths of Chinatown which provides a resolution that is complete and yet incomplete at the same time.
The film works as a straightforward detective mystery, making it very accessible indeed. There is a clearly defined plot which goes from point A to point B and then from point B to point C. The scenes are told in the correct order to service the story as a whole. This might seem basic, but I don't think it's easy at all - it certainly isn't simple to write a screenplay this controlled. It also works as a sort of allegory for the upper class' overpowering control over the entire system, and how everyone down below them get adversely affected. The fact of the matter is, no matter how much intelligence and wit you have, you'll always get beaten by the authority. Which is pretty depressing. Jack Nicholson's nose gets a constant beating because it's the one thing in the entirety of L.A. which can smell what's truly going on behind the very suspicious scenes.
There's very few things on this planet more satisfying than a well told story. This is one of them. I really don't know if I prefer this or "Rosemary's Baby". Regardless of what you think about Polanski himself, these films of his are staggeringly good.