This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
M S Krishna Prateek’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"I couldn't hear my own footsteps." "It was the walk of a dead man."
My introduction to Billy Wilder and first things first - I haven't seen a Noir with such quotable dialogue throughout it and Hat tip to Wilder-Chandler duo for writing such free-flowing dialogue with so much ironic humour beneath the surface despite always being in flow with the seriousness of the case above!
The main thing I loved in this film is that it's not just about Double Indemnity but is all about the Double Identity and there's all insurance but no assurance whatsoever! Fred MacMurray's "not smarter, just a little taller" Walter Neff cleared the air of suspense straight away, so much so that he confesses the killing in the opening itself that's supposed to be the ending of usual thrillers. With one Walter trying to figure out all the tricks people could pull on him in the name of insurance, there's another Walter who pulls a trick onto himself in getting lured by the sweet smell of "honeysuckle" that turns out to be bitter forever when the air got cleared. Even more ironic double of Walter lies in the fact that he also seems to be trying to figure out the true meaning of love and than in the "I love you baby" he said to Phyllis, I found the pure love in the two "I love you, too" lines he said to Mr Keyes, one before lighting the latter's cigarette at the beginning and the other before getting his cigarette lit by the latter at the end. Coming to Barbara Stanwyck's Phyllis, she is all dressed on the outside wearing the noir trope of femme fatale ensnaring men, but inside, she didn't love Walter or for that matter, anybody else and her double lies in the irony that she didn't get the insurance at the cost of the death she wanted but got the assurance of being in love at the cost of her own death she didn't expect at any point of time. Nino Zachetti is the hot-headed man who lost his job for talking back and his double is blinded in not seeing the love Lola still has for him even after Lola's double became aware of how he is seeing her step-mother. Mr Keyes, in general, is too quick to solve any case with his "stinky" hunches, but having known Neff intimately for 11 years, his double didn't hesitate to vouch for Neff without reservation and disagreed to the proposal of putting his friend under surveillance.
The cinematography was utterly gorgeous in the all black-and-white contrast staying true to what the genre came to be known for subsequently and many frames made me realise how they influenced the noirs that came down the line over the years, especially the shadow shot towards the end when Neff goes to Phyllis' home asking her to put the lights out that hit home even harder in the case of Phyllis who is revealed to be living in darkness all her life without seeing the light of love.
At the end of the day, for me, Double Indemnity is the quintessential film-noir that's perfect "straight down the line" and "murders don't come any neater"!