Pacific Heights

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Having recently just acquired a house for the first time I felt more deeply affected by this film than I did when I first saw it when I was about twelve. It’s one of those really well crafted and entertaining thrillers that came out between 1985 and 1995 where it seems to me that all of these different filmmakers were infusing the Hitchcock style with a contemporary sensibility and “flash”.

Pacific Heights (1990) is about a wealthy man (Micheal Keaton) who manipulates tenant laws designed to protect the working class in order to swindle a middle class couple (Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine). Scripted by Daniel Pyne, Pacific Heights deals its thrills and chills by exploiting middle class anxieties regarding real estate, race, and identity theft while never really analyzing these anxieties as being part of a larger corrupt capitalist society.

John Schlesinger directs his cast effectively but I didn’t notice any of the stylistic flourishes that marked his earlier films Darling (1965), Midnight Cowboy (1969), and Yanks (1979). It’s really down to the natural charisma and chemistry of Griffith and Keaton that carry this thriller. These two central performances would be the main reason I’d recommend this film to anyone.