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This is the noir thriller Frantic, directed and co-written by Roman Polanski. Now, when you think of Polanski as a filmmaker, you think of such masterworks as Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist to name a few, however one film not many people mention is Frantic. When released in 1988, although a critical success it didn’t play well at the box office and I guess through time it had been forgotten. That’s a shame because Frantic is a fine film, its Polanski’s homage to the great Hitchcock thrillers.

The pacing of the film is slow but not in a way that it bores you but in a way that it teases you. The story’s unravelling keeps you guessing till the very end. It’s very refreshing to watch now in 2012 because we’re used to thrillers being fast and ‘in your face’. Frantic is a classical thriller.

Set in Paris, the film stars Harrison Ford as a surgeon who finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot when his wife gets kidnapped. Like a true thriller it has you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning, it’s full of twists and turns, weird characters and mistaken identity – Ford is the epitome of the Hitchcockian leading man. He plays the ‘out of his element’ doctor who is determined to find his wife no matter what, brilliantly. The expressions, the delivery is all spot one, Cary Grant couldn’t have done it better himself. The scenes on the roof are simply fantastic (and wonderfully reminiscent of Vertigo).

Along with the streets of 80s Paris, Ennio Morricone’s chilling score gives this film a disturbing atmosphere. It’s as if something is not quite right, it has almost a surreal dreamlike feel. When I heard it, it was very different because I’m used Morricone being a composer for Spaghetti Westerns and this was very modern and hip but there is still that special touch – the Morricone stamp on it which makes it special.

All in all, it is an under-appreciated thriller with an absorbing plot, great acting and a memorizing soundtrack. It should’ve gone down as one of the greats but unfortunately didn’t. I highly highly recommend.


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