Adryon Thomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
I rarely ever say that a film is perfect. And sometimes I call a film perfect because I personally like it more than others, though it may not actually be perfect in the sense. But there are very few times that I will ever call a film perfect for actually being perfect. This is one of those times:
Chinatown isn't a random perfectness, or one that has been perfected through time. It knew exactly what it was going for, and how it was going to accomplish it's goal from the start. The film is dense with material, and no shot is ever wasted. Everything means something, and there are untold secrets woven into it's images. The story is complex. It's like being in a middle of a labyrinth, and having to find your way out. But in the end, you find out that outside is only a bigger labyrinth.
It feels like a perfectly paced novel turned film. Robert Towne meshed reality with style. And his story is an puzzle steadily being put together. Though the film is neo-noir, it's shot like a oil on a canvas. It's rich with pop and haze. The film also moves (physically) like a documentary. Handhelds are heavy but focused. Nothing is unsure in it's structure. And then Jerry Goldsmith ties it all together with his perfect score. The score makes the film. Without it, the film's impact wouldn't resonate as well.
Jack Nicolson gives the role of a lifetime, without overdoing himself. By the end of the film, you don't even see Jack Nicolson, just J.J. "Jake" Gittes. Faye Dunaway isn't the femme fatal you'd think. Her character is holding back, both her confusion and her knowledge. This makes her mysterious, because we don't know what she knows and how much she knows. This gives her the upper hand... Then there's classic director John Huston playing a terrifying character, but that's all I'll say about him.
Roman Polanski is at his ultimate prime. Any other director would have done either too much or too little. Polanski plays it focused and efficiently. There is a comfortably unsettling feeling throughout the film; and from what Polanski has done with Knife in the Water and Rosemary's Baby, he was the only person who could even pull it off. The film doesn't necessarily drag at any moment, because we are alway figuring something out, or looking for clues. And Polanski makes sure that there is ample information in one scene to last three. You couldn't get a more thorough film from any other director for this film.
This film goes above and beyond what any film should be. Movie's were made to entertain. That's all that they were ever meant to do. Some films tried to make statements, and some actually did. Some try to be deep or artsy, while others don't try to be anything more than what they are. Some films are big, others small. Some make money, others don't. Some films make you feel something good, and some may anger you. But they all have flaws. Every single one of them. It's how they deal with those flaws that make them stand out... What is Chinatown's flaw? If you can answer that, then ask yourself: "Does it even matter?"