Criterion's Klute Blu-ray Review

"For an hour, I'm the best actress in the world."

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

14

Recommended
Criterion's Klute Blu-ray Review
SRP: £17.99

Klute Film Review

Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda star in Alan J. Pakula's noir mystery, Klute.

The 1971 film Klute redefined what audiences expected from hitherto sex symbol Jane Fonda, who trepidatiously stepped out of her Barbarella-fuelled comfort zone to take on a much less glamorous part as a hollowed-out call-girl who struggles to let go of the cold manipulation of men that defines her profession, even when targeted by a serial killer.

Pakula would eventually reposition the feature as the first of a loose trilogy looking at the paranoid 70s, taking in '74's excellent Warren Beatty thriller, The Parallax View, and culminating in the Redford/Hoffman classic All the President's Men in '76. But back when it was made, Klute was his sophomore directorial effort, and his first thriller (his debut being a throwaway comedy), and it would go on to prove that the filmmaker had some teeth in the business.

Pakula impresses on just his second feature

The story sees Pennsylvania detective John Klute hired to investigate a missing executive with ties to a New York call girl, with the simple surveillance case turning messy as the bodies pile up and his main 'witness' proves tricky to manage, as she herself struggles to leave behind her calling even if it could cost her her life.

Donald Sutherland is superbly reserved as the almost robotic titular character, Klute (although a monosyllabic performance probably cost any chance of a follow-up in the role), sharing some tangible sweet chemistry with Jane Fonda's damaged sex worker, who in turn has some superb scenes opposite her 'pimp', played by a scene-stealing glorified cameo from Roy Scheider. It's the leads who carry the film, and Fonda does well despite reportedly wanting desperately to leave the project, but being compelled to stay under contract.

Pakula too impresses on just his second feature, still rough around the edges (they play the exact same sex speech tape about a dozen times, and it gets tiring after the second) but with plenty of grit and paranoia to play with, unravelling an atmospheric neo-noir mystery which stands the test of time better than many.

Klute Blu-ray Picture

Klute (1971)
Criterion brings Klute to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray just a month after its US bow, delivered with the same impressive 4K restoration based on the original 35mm print, subtly cleaning up the image but also rendering a very organic 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.

The film has quite obviously never looked this good

Unlike Arrow's Blu-ray release of Cruising, coming out on the same day, which also had a 4K scan, Criterion's Klute goes out of its way to keep the grain layer intact, leaving a very natural, textured feel which pervades the gritty piece. It's the opposite extreme to Cruising's DNR'd-to-hell look, and a welcome approach, and whilst grain is pervasive, it's hardly of the frozen variety (which, ironically, was present on the Cruising disc too).

There's clearly plenty of detail beneath the surface to be found, and the film has quite obviously never looked this good, with a strong rendition of the colour scheme too, allowing for some depth to the tones, but never anything overpowering or unnatural, and rounding the whole package off with strong black levels.

Klute Blu-ray Sound

Klute (1971)
The accompanying lossless Linear PCM Mono track is also a strong representation of the aural elements, remaining faithful to the original sound design (Arrow's Cruising Blu-ray could have learned a thing or two here as well) and trying its best in spite of inherent technical limitations to provide the film in the best shape it's seen in the best part of half a century.

A very good aural accompaniment

Dialogue gets keenly delivered, taking its place amidst the key elements which are disseminated, quite unsurprisingly, across a front-dominated affair, but always given room to breathe, whether delivered as tape playback, narration, whispers, shouts or screams. The score occasionally goes overboard with its now-slightly-dated stylisation, a part of plenty of thrillers from this era, but here used occasionally clumsily - although, again, this was just the director's second time around the block, and certainly it remains one of the strongest elements on the audio track. Effects are limited, but decent enough, from banging doors, creaking floorboards, bustling traffic and footfall, and authentic glass smashes. It's a very good aural accompaniment.

Klute Blu-ray Extras

Klute (1971)
Criterion's extras package is unsurprisingly substantial

Criterion's extras package is unsurprisingly substantial, driven by an Interview-dominated roster which primarily focuses on the late, acclaimed director, with a collection of new Interviews reflecting on the director's work, as well as an archival Interview with the man himself; and similarly a new Interview with star Jane Fonda talking about her work on the movie, as well as a shorter archival piece with her. There's a new Featurette on the style of the film, and, following suit, an archival Featurette covering much the same topic and taking in the 70s NYC setting. The package is rounded out by a Booklet.

Klute Blu-ray Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Criterion's Klute Blu-ray Review

Klute (1971)
An atmospheric neo-noir mystery which stands the test of time better than many

Released on the same day, Criterion's Klute Blu-ray is everything that the Arrow release of Cruising isn't, affording an excellent new 4K scan which hasn't been DNR'd to within an inch of its life (and even when DNR was applied to make Iron Man's 4K debut look more like a digitally shot film, to match the latter chapters in the MCU, they didn't destroy anything underlying detail with excessive sharpening). Klute looks wonderfully rich in grain and underlying texture, and similarly champions the provision of the original audio track, rounding out a very good package with a strong selection of both old and new extra features. It comes recommended.

Recommended

Scores

Movie

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Extras

.
.
8

Overall

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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