NICK NOLTE rurunr
surrounding The Last Temptation of Christ. No matter ifsome pundits have seen the film as little more than a high-class slasher ﬂick: with typical Scorsese bravura. the piece really puts the audience through the grinder. It‘s a kinetic. nerve-shredding display that leaves the likes of Silence ofthe Lambs looking pretty pallid by comparison. Having watched it with the usual preview audience ofhardened hacks. I can report that never before have I seen so many colleagues ashen-faced after a press screening and tottering towards the sanctuary ofthe nearest double brandy.
Still. even if Cape Fear does leave you feeling as ifyou‘ve been run over by the movie equivalent of an articulated lorry. you can‘t help thinking that for Scorsese and De Niro it’s all much ofa stylistic exercise. Taking cliche to the very edge of excess. the actor throws in the requisite chunks of hellfire religious guilt. bits and bobs of Nietzsche. and shows off his remarkable muscular prowess. yet Cady never amounts to much more than a collection ofbrilliant gestural effects in search of a character. The same too might be said of Scorsese‘s endeavours behind the camera for the rapid fire of self-consciously clever compositions and flamboyantly executed movements — hysterically overwrought during the crunching shennanigans of the studio-shot houseboat finale — in the end tend to obscure the intriguing bustle of psychological and moral ambiguities that Wesley Strick's screenplay has worked so hard to piece together.
There‘s slightly more to the movie than the misogynistic spree or glossy cat-and-mouse game maintained by its would-be detractors. This is most significantly apparent in the aspect ofthe plotting that sees the monstrous Cady as the physical embodiment of the Bowden‘s unconscious fears. The anxiety caused by his ongoing offensive makes the cracks in the family unit more obvious than they‘ve ever been. bringing up old tensions surrounding Sam‘s extramarital affair and highlighting the uneasiness that both he and his rather distant wife Leigh (Jessica Lange) are experiencing over their daughter‘s hastening maturity. Released from prison‘s enforced celibacy. the all-destroying libidinal hurricane that is Max Cady has the effect of making the married couple highly aware of their own sexual repression. And his advances towards
daughter Danny exacerbates the situation by highlighting the way they‘ve displaced that repression into the denial oftheir teenage offspring’s new identity as a potentially sexually active young woman.
In the end. the nuclear family isn‘t quite scattered to the four winds. but you are left to wonder just how the Bowdens will pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. As you emerge shell-shocked from the auditorium. you realise that Marty has created a sharp enough sense of uncertainty to take you beyond the conventional limits of the psycho thriller.
Cape Fear opens in Scotland on Friday 13 March. A special screening takes place at 9. ()5 pm on Saturday 7 March at the Edinburgh Film/louse.
THE FILMS 0F MARTIN SCOBSESE
Who’s That Knocking At My Door (1969) Boxcar Bertha (1972)
Mean Streets (1973)
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
Taxi Driver (1976)
New York, New York (1977)
The Last Waltz (1978)
Raging Bull (1980)
King of Comedy (1982)
After Hours (1985)
The Colour 01 Money (1986)
The Last Temptation at Christ (1988) GoodFellas (1990) Cape Fear (1991)
An Oscar nomination and starring roles in Cape Fear and Price of Tides have lifted NICK NOLTE to the top ofthe Hollywood league. Alan Morrison talks
to an actor finally receiving the acclaim he deserves.
lond hair. Blue eyes.
6ft lin tall. Southern draw]. The perfect ingredients for the typical l-lollywood beefcake. Not that Nick Nolte has ever surrendered . himself to those formulaic leading-man roles — at least not since he made his big screen debut as the handsome hunk opposite Jacqueline Bisset and a 1()ft-long moray eel in 1977‘s The Deep. His characters are ﬂawed men at the crossroads of confusion. his performances charged with an emotional openness that has won over critics. if not always audiences. It’s only now that those rugged good looks could more truthfully be called ragged that he betrays his 51 years and some tempestuous times as one ofthe industry’s latter-day
hell-raisers. Despite the three l divorces. a suspended 45-year jail sentence for selling fake draft cards. and years ofalcohol and drug abuse behind him. Nolte is a man with no regrets. ‘Sure. you have to be a little crazy. Well. I am certifiable. For years they‘ve been trying to put me on lithium — not my drug of choice! But ofall the things I’ve done in the past and the lessons I‘ve learned in life. the main teacher for me has been The Fool. I don‘t mean the stupid fool. but the fool who has blundered into things that maybe more cautious and intellectual men might not have proceeded into. Always when I try to seek security and control over life is when I‘ve run into trouble. It‘s been when I‘ve been loose and free enough to go with whatever is happening that
there‘s been growth.‘
‘Growth‘ is certainly the by-word in Nolte‘s career at the moment. As Sam Bowden. the respected lawyer hounded by I psychotic ex-convict Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. he has ; i dragged Gregory Peck‘s : untarnished hero ofthe 1962 ; original into a harsh 9()s‘ world ofuncertain morality. As Tom 5 Wingo. the bitter Southerner in Prince of Tides who must trawl the traumatic waters of his childhood to help his suicidal twin sister. he delivers one of the finest screen performances of recent years. building layers of j cynicism and pain over a very human core. And in the forthcoming Lorenzo's 01']. he brings untapped courage to the role ofa father who must take on the scepticism ofthe medical establishment in order to save a
Love in a clinical climate: Nick Notte and Barbra Streisand in Prince otTides
The List 28 February — 12 March l99211