“We never spoke about what happened, at least not to each other. Fear, I suppose, that to remember his name and what he did would mean letting him into our dreams.”
This De Niro-Scorsese masterpiece thriller (a remake of the 1962 film staring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum) adds another film to the extensive list of why the 90’s were arguably the best decade for film.
Cape Fear is the story of attorney and family man, Sam Boden who, 14 some years before the story starts, defended Max Cady in a case of rape and battery. Cady, played by Robert De Niro, gets out of the pen and returns to terrorize the Boden family and seek a sick kind of revenge. Cady seems to be invincible and manages to wreck complete havoc, both mentally and physically on the Boden family.
De Niro does a phenomenal job; he plays the eccentric and dementedly terrifying Max Cady perfectly. It is said that De Niro’s thick accent for Cady gave Martin Scorsese “the creeps” and his unforgettable laugh along with “Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!” are sure to send a chill up all viewer’s spines.
Juliette Lewis is also amazing. She plays Danielle Boden; a teenager teetering on the edge of womanhood and starting to discover her sexuality. Both Lewis and De Niro received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for their outstanding performances.
Martin Scorsese’s directing is, of course, excellent. The attention to detail adds something special: Cady’s lady in a bikini cigarette lighter and the scene where he meticulously combs his hair with an eyelash wand are peeks into his twisted mind. There are several moments shot in x-ray vision giving the feel of Max Cady’s total invasion on the Bodens, as though he is watching their every move.
Probably the most notable scene in the film is the thumb sucking that occurs between Danielle and Max. It is uncomfortable to watch and very disturbing. In fact, the whole movie is disturbing and on the terrifying end of the spectrum of thrillers. The story can and has happened in the real world, it’s not about monsters or aliens, and that’s what makes it so horrifying. But it is a throughly enjoyable film that will have an unrelenting grip on you from the sinister opening credits to the last nail-biting struggle between Cady and the Boden family.
Cape Fear is one of my favorite movies of all time (check out my list), simply because of how entertaining it is. I’ve seen it several times and it never gets old. It’s well done and a truly great film.