Cape Fear Reviews
The film, a remake of the 1962 film, which itself drew many inspirations from Hitchcock, takes Scorsese into horror/thriller territory, a genre he has rarely covered, to mostly impressive success. The real reason the film is so unsettling is due to the Oscar nominated performance from Robert De Niro in his seventh collaboration with Scorsese. The way De Niro jumps back and forth from seemingly innocent to absolute psychopath as he manipulates his way into the Bowden family is absolutely creepy, and is handled as well as you'd expect from someone like De Niro. The rest of the performers here, including fellow Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange, are all solid too, but there's no stealing the show from De Niro.
Cape Fear isn't without its problems though. As the story progresses, this story makes a sharp turn from a somewhat grounded one to one that is borderline comedic in presentation, which creates a huge tonal inconsistency. If it was intentional, as a kind of gesture to how absurd these kinds of stories can be, it's not a bad decision, but the fact that it's hard to tell isn't a good sign. And while it comes with the story and the themes Scorsese is conveying here, Nolte's Sam Bowden is sometimes hard to relate to, and lacks the kind of characterization that makes you want to root for him.
As a whole, it's not Scorsese's most refined work, but is a thrilling time with lots of tense moments and an expectedly great turn from De Niro to cap it all off.
One of the most interesting parts of the film was to watch how this happy, super American family unravels to become desperate and morally bankrupt. The protagonists appear to be good, but then the sins of their past are revealed and they take actions to stop Max that almost convince you that they've switched roles and become the villains. The film is paced very quickly, the story moves fast and we spend a good part of the film trapped in Sam's house, waiting for the something to happen, which adds a lot of tension. The narrative is sharp and deliberate, where Max takes out one part of Sam's life at a time (the mistress, the dog, the Maid), but leaves his daughter alone. It is definitely odd, but it has enough style and thrills to be a satisfying film.
My only negative for the movie is the run time. The final act seems to really drag on about twenty minutes too long. All of the tension of the movie has boiled up to a big dramatic ending, and this ending starts to really take care of things, but does meander a bit.
Excellent choice for fans of suspenseful movies.