Klute ★★★★½

Disillusionment In Sun-Drenched 1970s American New Wave Cinema: A Watching Brief

In a way, I really wish Klute had been made 2018.

I'm sure that many of us would have taken great pleasure and amusement in seeing alt-right attention-seeking dribblers and Daily Mail-clutching gammon-faced, be-high blood pressured tosswits taking to their Twitter accounts and LBC phone-ins in uproar about a pro-sex work movie being made with two prominent left-sided actors in the leads. Blimey, Wetherspoons corner tables would have been fuming, let me tell you.

It does show just how ahead of its time Klute was though. Jane Fonda's therapy sessions, where she talks openly and convincingly about the pleasures and downsides of working as a call girl, are a world away from almost every other film being made in its era (and way after that, for that matter) where a sex worker of some description was in a large or leading role.

Today it would be accused of tokenism by cretins, but it's utterly key to the relationship between Fonda and Donald Sutherland, and why its formation is the most interesting thing in Alan J. Pakula's immense thriller. Fonda's Bree Daniels confesses to self-destructive behaviour and not being able to control it whilst enjoying aspects of a more controlled and settled relationship.

We don't really know a lot about John Klute, in comparison. I think I had a problem with this when I first viewed it and I still can't really come to any solid conclusions why this is. The only plausible suggestion I could make is that we don't really need to know a lot about him. There's enough there for us to know what kind of person he is - quiet, dedicated but also open-minded.

Theirs is a relationship that can never seemingly have a solid grounding because of who Fonda is as a person. No matter how seemingly stable Sutherland is, the dynamic lies completely with Fonda and in that way she actually has far more control in the relationship than she thinks she does, as revealed during one of her sessions of therapy. Their relationship will thrive or flounder completely depending on where he mind is at any point.

It's fair enough to talk about Klute as one of Pakula's 'Paranoid Trilogy' because there are clearly strong aspects of the story linked to that label. However, this is far less reliant on those aspects than All the President's Men or The Parallax View, which I'm going to rewatch over the next few days. In fact, it's a much different film altogether as it's Pakula examining a burgeoning relationship with as much minute detail as he examines the machinations of politics and journalism in the aforementioned films. And a marvellous film at that.

Steve G liked these reviews