Tottenham_Toad’s review published on Letterboxd:
The significance that Chinatown was able to establish, comes mainly from it's reinstatement of the Film Noir genre. This Roman Polański classic is often hailed to be one of the greats in cinema; which follows P.I. Jake Gittes, who is given a great deal of money to investigate a certain affair (involving people of a high social status). Whilst on the job, he realises the severity of the situation a little too late. Polański's directorial ability is a force to be reckoned with; given the stylistic mise-en-scene he creates works perfectly. A large proportion of his filmic techniques stay rather subtle, with a few major scenes dealing with some incredible camerawork and aesthetic pleasantry. But what is most vividly apparent, comes through the reminiscence of it's Score. The non-diegetic soundtrack (thanks to Jerry Goldsmith) links the gruelling storytelling with the emancipated characters. The jazz overlay makes the balance between violence and beauty incredible.
Much like any other Film Noir's, the plot stays rather "basic" when in terms of the genre; with clear focus on certain storytelling aspects (German Expressionism, French Poetic Realism and Italian Neo-realism). The introductory period is nothing too strenuous; with almost all details led out. Yet, as the film's plot goes deeper, we can see a clear parallel with that of the characters, who also start tapping deeper into their own subconscious. Once the focus of the film had shifted to it's true plot, we are gifted an immense amount of story. The difference between Chinatown, and others of the same ilk, comes in the shape of it's sheer power. As the film rapidly progresses, each scene offers shock factor; especially once the characters real "identity" is released. As the audience, we are left with one of the most horrendously shocking finale's; that could not have been expected.
The multi-award winning actor Jack Nicholson takes on yet another Oscar worthy character. In his incredible portrayal of the Hard-Boiled Cop, his blunt humour and cynicism makes his character seem almost ambiguous in nature. His dynamic with Faye Dunaway is something of dreams. Given the relationship between them starts of with hatred; the gradual build-up of romance and politics can be argued upon as fantastic. Her role is most certainly of the Femme Fatale (despite the films's twist). One could argue that their is no defined character archetypes within the film. Each given role holds aspects that are both good and bad. Yet, one could argue that their is clear standing for John Huston's character being of the villain. His treatment all the way through is disgusting; as well as his past being ultimately disturbing.
In conclusion, the Film Noir genre is always a pleasure to watch; and most of the time, you can expect great cinema. Chinatown's Neo-Noir style is easily phenomenal, and has the same effect with the likes of Blade Runner and Brick. This film is almost perfection, and is definitely worthy of the "classic" title.