A great mystery/thriller which contains many elements of the film-noir genre, Chinatown is constantly regarded as one of the best films ever made and with good cause.
Chinatown follows former Los Angeles police officer turned private eye J.J. 'Jake' Gittes (Jack Nicholson), who is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to follow her husband, Chief Engineer of Water and Power Hollis Mulwray, whom she believes is being unfaithful.
Finally catching Hollis with another woman, Jake takes photos of the pair embracing, only for the evidence to be leaked to the press and becoming front page news. But when Hollis turns up dead and the real Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) threatens to sue, Jake realises he has been set up.
Hell bent to clear his name, Jake begins to investigate delving deeper in a mystery that involves real estate, and someone dumping water in the ocean during one of the worst droughts to hit Los Angeles.
With the opening credits setting the tone, director Roman Polanski does a great job re-creating 1930's era Los Angeles. The movie's attention to detail is its strength, Polanski never rushing to finish a scene, the camera fixed on the actors and the films lush 1930's backdrop.
Writer Robert Towne has written an excellent screenplay fool of rich, complex characters and well paced suspense that also contains one of the darkest endings in cinema.
Jack Nicholson gives one of his best performances as Jake Gittes, possessing an old school charm that none of his peers can match. His style reminds of the quiet cool of Grant and Cooper, yet contains a wild rebellion that can explode on the screen at any time.
Faye Dunaway's performance as Evelyn Mulwray is also excellent, portraying an extremely complex character who, like Jake, is constantly struggling with the sins of the past.
A film you can watch over and over again, Chinatown is highly recommended.