Personally, I love a conspiracy theory. And I love the paranoid thrillers of the 1970s- most notably Polanski’s ‘Chinatown’, Coppola’s ‘The Conversation’ and ‘All The President’s Men’ by Alan J Pakula. This film, also by Pakula, is less epic than those classics but is still pretty strong.
Warren Beatty stars (this is the important Beatty that I’ve read about in ‘Easy Riders, Raging Bulls‘ and not the joke figure he became) and is pivotal. He’s probably in over 50% of the shots over the whole course of the movie. And I think that’s the problem, it isn’t his performance- which is excellent- but the fact that Alan Pakula builds the movie around Beatty’s character so that the viewer identifies strongly with him. The downside of this is that it excludes everyone else and some strong performances, most notably from Hume Cronyn, don’t get the material that they merit. This is an hour and a half movie that would have benefitted from the addition of background colour taking it up to two hours.
The cinematography is excellent, the performances are strong, the story is fine- but it’s one-dimensional. It is a good movie- 7/10- but the director would’ve done better to be a little more ambitious. As he indeed would be a couple of years later with ‘All The President’s Men’.