Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #107 Cape Fear

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2010 at 12:24 AM

Movie #107 Cape Fear

(1991, US, d. Martin Scorcese)

The early 1990’s were busy times for Martin Scorcese. And in his case, busy usually means good. Unfortunately though, Cape Fear is a misstep in his reputable filmography. The biggest problem with Cape Fear lies in the fact that it’s mostly style over substance. The first half of the film is great. It’s tense, well-acted, and stylistically something very unique – especially for a mainstream thriller. Scorcese and cameraman Freddie Francis use an array of colors and camera techniques to embellish this story of a crazed man (Robert DeNiro) out to avenge the counselor (Nick Nolte) who caused him to spend 14 years in prison. The second of half of that film seems to lose any sense of control over its style and just massacres the entire movie. It felt like a bad Indian movie – the villain just never died and the movie lasted about 45 minutes longer than it had to. By the end I was just hoping and hoping it was going to be over. Robert De Niro, who was nominated for Best Actor that year (but lost to Anthony Hopkins for Silence of the Lambs) is at his maniacal best. It’s hard to imagine fearing DeNiro’s presence especially since the latter part of this decade has featured him in no threatening role, to say the least. But DeNiro is a fantastic actor and he is something in this. The other noteworthy performance of the film belongs to Juliette Lewis (also nominated) for her troubled teenager performance. Overall, the second act is so bad that it really overshadows any good that happens in the first, even though the first hour of the piece really is great.

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