Cape Fear is a 1991 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and is a remake of the 1962 film of the same name that was directed by J. Lee Thompson. I’ll be honest with you, I had absolutely no interest whatsoever going into this movie, I remember discovering it for very cheap about two or three years ago, but I never actually took the time to watch it. I knew that it received positive reception, and I knew that I was being unfair toward the movie, but I didn’t care. I knew that I would watch the movie eventually, but I was ready to stubbornly ignore the movie for as long as conceivably possible. I suppose that a lot of the reason that I decided to watch this movie is because having seen The Departed and The Aviator, a lot of me has taught me that I should always be willing to give Martin Scorsese a chance. I have also had this newly found interest in pursuing more work from Robert De Niro.
The film tells the story of a convicted rapist who seeks revenge against a former public defender that he blames for his fourteen year imprisonment for purposefully faulty defense tactics during his trial. Basically, the character really did do a crime, but there was a loophole that could have been seized for him to have gotten off on a technicality, but the lawyer decided against it. He decides to extract his revenge through various form of psychological torment, utilizing his opportunistic intelligence and manipulation to make the man’s life a living hell. The special-effects in this movie are immediately something that I found myself inadvertently noticing from the beginning. There is always this saying about an older movie with tremendous special-effects, saying that it still holds up today, but this is the kind-of movie that doesn’t have special-effects that hold up well at all whatsoever. A lot of it is because they felt completely unneeded, I disliked the filters that were occasionally used because they brought back flashbacks of things that I could make with Windows Movie Maker. They aren’t by any means something that deserves to be held too tightly against the film, but they are something that I noticed, and therefore, I decided to acknowledge them.
The movie stands out predominantly for emphasizing one key-element from Martin Scorsese’s capabilities, this being the amount of depth that he manages to make his characters carry, and how good he is at building a rivalry between two characters. While it is absolutely amazing in The Departed, Cape Fear isn’t a slouch in that department by any means. Robert De Niro’s character is absolutely amazing in this movie, with so many bizarre character traits and features that by the time that the movie ends, you truly begin to appreciate how unique of a performance that you have witnessed. I found myself applauding him, hating him, and all while loving the performance that sparked it all. However, another performance that is less likely to get applauded is Nick Nolte’s performance as the lawyer. They position it in such a way that he comes across as an *******, but then, there are more and more layers of development behind him. He feels realistic in his performance, and I can actually sense the desperation that he carries with him in his dialogue.
T he movie isn’t absolutely perfect, I found for Juliette Lewis’ performance to be annoying, which is interesting considering that she was nominated for Academy Award for her performance, but that doesn’t change how I felt. It felt as if she was over-the-top and disproportionate the movie itself, which is over-the-top but in such a way that she doesn’t mesh very well with it. “She’s annoying,” is what I am trying to say. The film is also very long, lasting over two-hours which is admittedly refreshing for a film such as this, still has the tendency to drag itself. There are also times where it falls back more into nonsensical horror-territory more than a psychological thriller, especially in the final half. In an effort to keep it simple, I’ll conclude by saying that while it certainly isn’t the best movie that I have seen from Martin Scorsese, the movie has a tremendous performance from Robert De Niro, as well as a solid performance from Nick Nolte. There are a lot of elements for suspense, a lot of wit and prowess to be discovered with the cleverness behind the plot, and while the movie might have been a little excessive in length, that didn’t stop me from enjoying it a lot.