This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
The first thing I noticed were the tones of the voices, low, flat and weary. Just like people should sound after the 12-hour flight from San Francisco to Paris. They are happy to be in Paris, but would be happier to be in bed. This was where they spent their honeymoon, 20 years ago, and now Dr. Richard Walker and his wife, Sondra, have returned for a medical convention.
There is some confusion with the luggage; apparently she picked up the wrong bag at the airport. But everything else seems to be going perfectly when Walker steps into his hotel shower. The phone rings, his wife answers it and says something, but he can’t hear her because the water is running. By the time he steps out of the shower, she has disappeared.
That’s the setup for “Frantic,” Roman Polanski’s new thriller.
It’s a professional comeback for the director of “Rosemary's Baby” and “Chinatown,” who was recently reduced to serving as gun-for-hire on the dreary “Pirates.” Every scene of this film feels like a project from Polanski’s heart - a film to prove he is still capable of generating the kind of suspense he became famous for. And every scene, on its own, seems to work. It is only the total of the scenes that is wrong. The movie goes on too long, adds too many elaborations and tacks on too many complications, until the lean and economical construction of the first hour begins to drift into self-parody.