I could’ve written a book about thriller, my absolute favourite genre of film that hosts so many good classics. From crime to conspiracy, disaster to legal, political to erotic, supernatural to the jackpot, psychological thriller. Pollack, Polanski, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Fincher, Foley, Kaufman, Kubrick, Nolan, Petersen, De Palma, the Coens have all dibbed their finger in the magical pool of thrillers.
The psychological thriller is a hard one to pull of since the major conflict between characters is a psychological one; without artistry and skill the storytelling can get dull and dumbed down with too much expressive dialogue, explaining and forced scenes. Basically a combination of mystery and drama, psychological thrillers often create multilayered characters and complex conflicts that are not resolved through a physical conclusion (showdown) but rather through mental ways and aspects.
Hitchcock’s Rear Window starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly tells the story of a temporarily wheelchair bound photographer trapped in a one bedroom apartment starts spying on his neighbours across the street. Tensions highten when L.B. (Stewart) believes he has witnessed a murder.
If one were to describe Hitchcock’s work they would begin with suspense, wit, romance, captivation and voyeurism and Rear Window is a masterclass in all of these. In know way is it flashy, the one line synopsis is enough to give out the basic outline of the plot, but as often with best films the tension and character build up is what makes Rear Window the classic it is. Basically set in a single room, and in one situation Hitchcock masters the art of a window into a moment in a persons life.
As we look through J.B’s lens and the interesting people across the courtyard we find ourselves sitting in that wheelchair working through the mystery of the happenings in Raymond Burr’s, a conspicious neighbour, apartment. The skillful storyline with the mastery of the camerawork and the pace of the film makes the very difficult one location shooting be every bit as entertaining than anything. For some this type of shooting can get too tense, conscise and slow, but as Hitchcock is the master of psychological thriller, and shooting he survives these traps and creates a stable in the history of thrillers.
Relying on character strength in this film pays of magnificiently well as Stewart gives a solid and enthralling performance as the man struggling with decisions of right and wrong. His career is filled with this type of role, contemplative, risky and strong. Through the varied behaviours of the people across the street, doing their own thing in their apartements and the witty writing, Rear Window has become one of the most stylistically succesfull and accessible of Hitchcock’s films.
You will like Rear Window if …
– Hitchcockian is either your favourite word, or something you’ve failed to understand before.
– you’re looking for an entertaining, yet thrilling film.
– you need to catch up on your classics.