Friday, June 15, 2012

Rosemary's Baby

What is there to possibly say about Roman Polanski that hasn't been said already? Popular opinion of him is pretty much broken up into two camps ("He is an utterly brilliant filmmaker" or "He is a child rapist and a pervert so I wont watch his films"). I personally believe in that first opinion primarily because HE IS a brilliant filmmaker and in addition to that I have seen "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" which was a huge eye opener into his criminal case.

Anyway, last night I watched "Rosemary's Baby" for the first time ... and it blew my mind. I cant say that it is any "Chinatown" because it definitely is not. But it is a grade A thriller through and through. I cannot begin to say good things about this film. It is beyond creepy and works well off of the material and Polanskis direction, and it  doesn't use fast cuts or any of the garbage that horror filmmakers use today for cheap screams. This film sets a mood that is creepy as hell from the beginning and only builds from there.

I wont go in to detail for the risk of giving away too much for anyone who has still not seen this classic. The basic gist of the film is that a couple (Farrow and Cassavettes) move into a new apartment which has a history of witches that may or may not involve their neighbors. Once Farrow becomes pregnant the rest of the film is generally ambiguous and up to your own personal interpretation.

The acting in this film is pitch perfect. I cannot believe that Mia Farrow did not win a a single award for her performance. It is completely devastating watching her deteriorate gradually throughout the film. John Cassavettes was an interesting choice for the husband "Guy" but did not really stand out that much. He doesn't seem to have a lot to work with in this film, but for what its worth he was more than adequate. The real standout performance in this film is Ruth Gordon of "Harold and Maude" fame. She starts off really weird and quirky and only becomes more sinister as the film progresses.

Another point of interest is the way the film was shot. Polanski, no matter how great of a DP he has on his films is very controlling of the framing and general layout and look of the film. Scene after scene you witness some very beautiful and interesting camera work (almost in a "Hitchcockian" style). You can see other great examples and perhaps even better ones in "Chinatown".

Overall, I cannot remember the last time a film had genuinely creeped me out so much. This is a gripping film that is worth multiple viewings, and will now be a part of my all time favorite films particularly in the horror genre. 10/10

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