The Parallax View (1974) 4.43/5 (2)
4.43/52

 

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Rating: The Good – 79.5
Genre: Thriller
Duration: 102 mins
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, William Daniels

Alan J. Pakula’s film is the perfect case of form following function. A series of seemingly unrelated deaths gives a lone journalist (Warren Beatty) reason to believe he has uncovered the existence of a shadowy organisation of specialist contract killers. An American film about political assassinations set in the paranoid years of the early 70′s was always going to be dark and uncomfortable but Pakula takes it to the extreme here but not in any overtly obvious way. Ending many scenes with either an abrupt sense of closure or an ambiguous one, Beatty’s character drifts through the film as though he was never in command of his own destiny. There are lighter moments but they come off as slightly forced and out of pace with the rest of the film such as the bar-fight or the slightly ludicrous car chase. However, any such weaknesses are offset by some terrific sequences such as the famous Parallax assessment scene or that marvelous opening to the film. Michael Small’s music is timeless and was a definite influence on his later even more emphatic Marathon Man score. Overall, The Parallax View is one of the best representatives of a vintage of film-making that has never been matched in terms of the unsettled sense of being it instills in us.

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