Frantic 1988 Movie Scene Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Walker snorting cocaine in a Paris nightclub

Frantic [1988]

Although the title of this movie is Frantic, it’s hardly that. But, don’t get me wrong, that’s actually a good thing. Directed by Roman Polanski and starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner (his later muse), this movie is above all realistic. And from that, it draws real tension and elicits feelings from the viewer. To younger generations, this might seem a bit slow-paced since Taken with a similar theme was so fast. And they might be half-right, but this is a bit different take on the foreigner in Paris situation. 

Liam Neeson was kicking ass left and right in Taken, while Harrison Ford is a simple doctor who doesn’t know how to throw a punch. Although he certainly doesn’t look like that. Toying with suspense and interesting camera angles Polanski created a highly atmospheric movie, capturing Paris both in a good and bad light. If you pay attention to storytelling, you’ll see that Frantic offers a formula used in most thrillers nowadays.

Dr. Richard Walker and his wife Sondra just landed at a Paris Airport to attend a medical conference. They take their luggage and go to their hotel to relax and maybe enjoy the French vibe if you know what I mean. As Richard enters the shower a phone rings and Sondra picks up the call.

Moments later Richard realizes that his wife is not in their room. Calmly, he starts searching the hotel for her, but without any luck. And then the panic slowly starts to set in, as he realizes that he doesn’t speak French and his wife is missing in Paris…

One of the things I liked most about this movie is its immersiveness. I mean, you can see where they were going with this targeting married couples and asking the question what would you do in that situation. And this extends to the entire city of Paris. Any movie set in this city immediately brings back memories of all those seventies French noir movies, at least for me. They offer a window into a world that’s now long gone, so you can even get hit with a huge wave of nostalgia.

The mystery surrounding Sondra’s disappearance keeps getting more convoluted and even surreal maintaining a suspenseful atmosphere. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Frantic check out Breakdown starring Kurt Russel. 

Director: Roman Polanski

Writers: Roman Polanski, Gérard Brach, Robert Towne

Cast: Harrison Ford, Betty Buckley, Emmanuelle Seigner, Gérard Klein, Jacques Ciron

Fun Facts: Studios pressured Polanski to recut the movie. He cut out 15 minutes and shot a new ending to please them in his most Americanized movie to date.


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