Frantic ★★★★½

Frantic is the kind of film that Alfred Hitchcock would have loved to have directed, and it is the kind of film that Brian De Palma must still wish he had directed.

It does surprise me that when Roman Polanski's films are discussed that Frantic isn't cited as one of his very best. As far as I'm concerned it is. It may lack the genius of Chinatown or the mischievous beauty of Cul-de-Sac and it may be just short of the breathtakingly taut suspense of Knife In The Water, but this is Polanski showing that he can do North By Northwest and Blow Out as well.

He might not have Harrison Ford chased by a crop duster or having him make a mad dash through a Liberty Day parade, but he does have him dangling precariously outside of Emmanuelle Seigner's apartment grabbing for a miniature statue of the Eiffel Tower. Frantic is every bit as packed with moments of suspense, thrills, comedy and, erm, comedy thrills as you could possibly ask for.

To that end, it probably has more in common with a Hitchcock film - it has enough moments of black humour to make you realise that you're not supposed to take this tale, of an American doctor who goes on the trail of his missing wife after she mysteriously disappears from their hotel room while he is showering, that seriously. It's a caper, that's what it is. And we all love a good caper, don't we?

Ford, who surprisingly still splits opinion more than I would expect, seems to be having great fun as the befuddled foreigner who has no idea what is going on. He really is a past master at this kind of role, though, and he would better himself in a similar sort of role when The Fugitive came round.Seigner gets one of her best roles in a Polanski film, or any other film for that matter, and it is those two that almost completely dominate the film. The great John Mahoney also has a fun extended cameo as a suspicious American official, but the support cast doesn't really intrude on proceedings too much.

It really is one of the most fun thrillers of the 1980s and Polanski at his most accessible.

🇵🇱 Steve G liked these reviews