Starring: Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda, Charles Cioffi
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Running Time: 112 mins
Klute is an American film about a private investigator who joins forces with a New York call girl to investigate the disappearance of a wealthy family man who once may have spent the night with the call girl.
A film that holds up brilliantly 50 years after its release, Klute delivers smoky, scintillating mystery with a gritty and emotionally captivating screenplay, bolstered by two dynamite lead performances from Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda which make for a mesmerising watch throughout.
There’s a lot that makes Klute such a great crime mystery, but what’s most remarkable about it is just how modern it feels. This film would not look out of place being released into cinemas this year, and that’s a result of Alan J. Pakula’s bold direction, a down-to-earth screenplay and two eye-catching lead performances.
A strikingly gritty watch from start to finish, Klute leans heavily on its unsettling, unstable atmosphere to bring high stakes to its story. Beyond the central mystery that Sutherland and Fonda solve together, the film evolves into a Cape Fear-like thriller as more and more details of the case are unpacked before you.
Coupled with an intriguing dynamic between the confident but troubled call girl in Fonda and the seemingly unfeeling but in truth detective in Sutherland, there’s a lot of drama and emotional depth at play here, and that makes it a genuinely riveting watch from beginning to end.
The film gives a smoky and mysterious portrayal of New York City without leaning too heavily on genre clichés and stereotypes, all the while capturing a high-stakes story in powerfully gritty detail that, for the most part, is a nail-biter right to the very end.
The only point where Klute lets itself down is in revealing its own conclusion a little prematurely. While the clues that lead to the answers to the mystery seem entirely obvious in hindsight, there’s a moment in which the penny drops, but the film still seems to proceed as if nothing has happened.
All this comes in the last 20 minutes or so, and although this certainly isn’t the kind of film to conclude with an epic fanfare, I felt that Klute jumped the gun a little when it came to bringing its story to a close right at the finish.
Overall, however, Klute is a fantastic crime drama that blends riveting mystery with captivating character depth, an ingeniously-crafted atmosphere and strikingly gritty sensibilities far, far ahead of its time. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.9.