By now it's only redundant to heap more praise on this film. The writing, acting, cinematography, direction, editing, etc. seamlessly come together as if predestined. And yes, I think Polanski's decision to go with a downbeat ending was the correct choice - that final scene is unforgettable.
What I'd like to focus on is Faye Dunaway's remarkable contribution to the film. She reportedly did not get along with Polanski, in fact, was labeled "difficult" on several of her movies. Yet she turned in an incomparable, complex performance. Starting with her look. Hitchcock placed great emphasis on each character's outward appearance, which told us just about all we needed to know. Here Dunaway takes a page from his book and immerses herself in the trappings of a wealthy woman of the 1930s. Compare the way she looked in "Bonnie and Clyde," also set in the 1930s. The eyes and hair are straight out of 1967.
Keep in mind that she was 33 when she made 'Chinatown." That's a knowing performance from someone so young. Her cool demeanor when we first meet her turns out to be misleading. She embodies the classic femme fatale until just toward the end, in her famous "She's my sister. She's my daughter" scene, when we suddenly understand she's the only character with an ounce of integrity. There's been quite a lot going on beneath the surface.
Next time you watch this film, pay close attention to Dunaway. You won't find a better female performance anywhere.
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