Pulp crime picture reuniting Jack Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens) yet again. A surprising mix of sex and violence pairs up two losers, Frank Chambers (Nicholson) and Cora Papadakis (Jessica Lange) who plot to and eventually kill Cora’s husband Nick (John Colicos). They initially get off through a tenuous, at best, courtroom drama segment involving corrupt lawyers and insurance executives.
The early rape scenes are quite a shock and the sexual violence continues throughout the film. It’s a tough watch not only for the aforementioned scenes but also for the general corrupt nature of both the leads and most of the supporting characters in the film – there is not much goodness to be found here. Gorgeous Lange turns in a notable performance but its implausible that she could have married this Nick, a short, balding, drunken goon. The film is full of tragedy and all in all it’s a big downer. The costume design is impressive but the set design looks like made for television. David Mamet adapted the screenplay from the novel by James N. Cain. I felt the heat but I longed for cool air.
** / *****