Sunday, March 13, 2011
A Great Becoming: Manhunter
The inevitable comparison to Silence will always be brought up regarding this film. As well as the comparison to the haphazardly informed Red Dragon. As far as stories go, Manhunter is the more interesting of the two. To me at least. Particularly when it boils down to villians. Dolarhyde's storyline feels more striking than James Gumb's. Buffalo Bill may be nasty and repulsive towards his victims but the Tooth Fairy's M.O. is killing entire families in order to 'change'. Something I find just as terrifying as Buffalo Bill's tactics- if not moreso. Both Noonan and Levine turn in the performances of their careers in those films. Don't get me wrong, both are top quality films in their own respective ways. I choose Silence slightly over this because of how well Demme was able to build on the foundation this one laid.
A difference from Thief & The Keep is the addition of DP Dante Spinotti. A key collaborator who, along with editor Dov Hoenig, would shape and form a tight thriller that is informed by strong characters. Even if the music hasn't aged well (which honestly doesn't bother me), the sterile atmosphere of the sets & observational approach in its storytelling give the film a particular mood. It's even little things that make this film work the way it does. Reba caressing the tiger as Dolarhyde watches. All contributing to a potent sense of anticipation towards a startling climax.
Manhunter can be viewed as an underrated thriller unfairly judged for some of its stylistic choices. Whatever the case, it's further proof that we owe Mann awe. A