Cape Fear MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

   This movie is R rated. Those under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

With the new suspense thriller "Cape Fear," director Martin Scorsese once again proves that he is one of the world's greatest living filmmakers. He brings the quality and intelligence of such films as "Taxi Driver" and "GoodFellas" to the thriller genre, and the result is one of the most frightening films in years.

This film is a remake of a 1962 classic starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, and it tells the story of ex-convict Max Cady (played in this version by Robert DeNiro) and his revenge against his one-time attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte). However, that is about all the '62 version and the '91 version have in common. In the first version, Bowden's family was perfect; they were purely good and wholesome. Cady was a symbol of absolute evil who wanted his revenge and that was all.

In this new version, nothing is all good or all evil. The Bowden family is far from perfect: Sam has had an extramarital fling, his wife Leigh feels neglected and alone, and their daughter, Danielle, has a marijuana problem. And then there's Max Cady. He was jailed for fourteen years after Bowden failed to get him acquitted of sexual assault charges. While in jail, Cady learns to read, gets his case file, and finds that Bowden held back crucial evidence that might have proven Cady innocent. Once out of jail, Cady wants his revenge, but he has a higher purpose in mind. He feels that by making the Bowden family do penance for their sins on earth, they won't have to spend an eternity in hell. In his mind, he is on a mission from God: he represents, in a way, Christianity gone haywire.

This all combines to create a thriller that is much more layered than the average movie. The acting by the four principal actors is superb. DeNiro once again shows his acting power. From Cady's slicked back hair to his gigantic cigar, he creates the perfect villain: one who knows the rules and knows how to get around them. Although she doesn't have too much to do, Jessica Lange does wonders with her part as the tortured wife. But the real surprise is Juliette Lewis in the role of Danielle. Her character is realistic and not at all clich"d. In one long, chilling scene, Cady confronts Danielle in a dark corner of her school. The scene is frightening but believable all at once. Any teenage actress that can hold her own with DeNiro has great potential.

But the real star of the film is Scorsese's camera. He makes skillful use of black and white negative shots to create a creepy and intense feeling of doom. In the film's final confrontation, the camera spins like mad around the actors to create a truly dizzying effect. Some critics have complained that at this point Scorsese goes over the top with the violence. However, there has been such a long build-up of tension throughout the film that it requires this huge payoff. At the end, you feel drained, as if you had experienced all this yourself.

Because of its layers of guilt and redemption, its fine acting, and complex camera work, "Cape Fear" is miles above the typical thriller. It's also fun to rent the original version, and then see the latest version. It provides for interesting film comparison, and a chance to see two great movies. n

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