Frantic Short Review (1988)

Roman Polanski’s Frantic is yet another film of the director’s in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock suspense films. There’s no other director that I can think of that comes so close to emulating the great auteur without ripping him off. Polanski, like Hitchcock isn’t interested in a morality tale as much as he is pure suspense. Frantic delivers in that regard and is one of the better films made in the 1980s.

Harrison Ford plays an ‘everyman’ role instead of the superhero that he was accustomed to playing in this particular time frame. He’s really good here, as an American doctor visiting Paris for a medical convention whose wife disappears from their hotel room while he showers. This is yet another film where Ford proves he’s as good of an actor as he is an action star. He’s probably the all time greatest as far as action stars go. The Star Wars trilogy, The Indiana Jones series, the Fugitive, the Jack Ryan series, Blade Runner… He’s been in a ton of them and his action films are the kind that you don’t have to check your brain at the door.

Emmanuelle Seigner plays a very sexy younger woman who may or may not be helping Ford’s character find his wife. that’s the great thing about the film is that the audience knows as little as the audience does. Polanski also doesn’t resort to Hollywood cliches with her character, either. She has her own agenda and sees it through to the very end. In fact, any character arc that is involved in this film may in fact be with her character instead of Ford’s.

The story does not play out to Hollywood contrivances. It’s not predictable and is one of those films that allows the story to go naturalistically go wherever it’s going. Polanski has the knack for introducing elements into a story to create maximum suspense. In Frantic he places an American doctor in France who can’t speak the language of the natives, having had to rely on his wife, who does.

There is a feeling of paranoia throughout that everyone he has a conversation with may be hiding something mainly because he can’t understand French. The film is never boring and has several interesting sequences. That’s not to say ‘action’ sequences.  one of Polanski’s better efforts. For instance there is a scene or two that may induce vertigo, but I can’t really classify it as an action scene.

This is a great film from the 1980s movie and highly recommended. It’s too bad, Polanski won’t accept responsibility for his actions in the real world, though. I would like to actually review one of his films without having to write anything about his failure to do so. Apparently he’s never going to do that, though, but I digress.

4.5 of 5 whatevers.


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