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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
To me, this film is even more impressive today than it was when I first saw it. Frankly, when seeing it 20 years ago, I was thrown off-balance by the character whom Eastwood plays, Wes Block, a police detective in New Orleans. He pursues a serial killer of prostitutes, a psychopath with whom he seems to share similar psycho-sexual preoccupations. Presumably this was a risky part for Eastwood to take on. Under skillful but deferential direction by Richard Tuggle, he explores with great skill certain depraved tendencies within himself which were much more shocking in 1984 than they seem to be, regrettably, two decades later. Block's personal situation is complicated even more by the fact that he a single parent, raising two daughters. It is also important to remember that his personal conduct creates the risk of compromising his professional integrity as a law enforcement officer. For these and other reasons, Block is a much more enigmatic character than, for example, Harry ("what you see is what you get") Callahan.

In the role of Beryl Thibodeaux, Genevieve Bujold portrays a criminal psychologist who is attracted to Block as they work together even as she begins to sense and then contend with at least some of the demons which torment him. So much of this film occurs (both literally and symbolically) in darkness. Even a trained professional such as Thibodeaux is frustrated in her attempts to understand someone for whom she feels sincere affection. Special credit should be given to Bruce Surtees for superb cinematography which is coordinated seamlessly with the often depressing storyline. He had worked with Eastwood in previous films which include Dirty Harry (1971), Play Misty for Me (also 1971), The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976), and Pale Rider (1985). The supporting cast is excellent, notably Eastwood's own daughter Alison who plays Amanda Block in the film, and Dan Hadeya as Detective Molinari. Eventually, after the serial killer kidnaps Amanda, her distraught and enraged father pursues her to a riveting conclusion when....

Others are much better qualified than I to express this opinion but I think Wes Block is a character which begins a new transition for Eastwood the actor. Thereafter, the characters he plays tend to be of the "sadder but wiser" variety, much less self-assured, more fatalistic in their view of the world, skeptical and sometimes cynical, reluctant to trust anyone or anything, and are -- for me, therefore -- much more interesting. This is an especially upsetting film which has lost little (if any) of its dramatic impact. Twenty years after its initial release and probably because I have become a grandfather, there are certain situations in Tightrope which are even more upsetting now than ever before.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2006
Anybody who thinks Clint Eastwood gave his finest acting performances in "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby" should see this film, released in 1984. At the time, his acting talent was not as respected as it is now, which is why I think this film did not get the critical acclaim it should have.

Clint gives a flat out amazing performance as a police officer investigating the murder of prostitutes in red light new orleans while also exploring his own disturbing appetites for kinky sex.

The film is deceptive. It starts out as what seems to be a typical cop thriller but quickly evolves into something much deeper and multilayered. Clint shows an emotional complexity all the more extraordinary because of its subtlety. It should have easily been his first acting oscar nod.

Also worth noting is that this is one of the best films ever filmed in New Orleans. It excellently captures the unique flavor and ambience of the city. (something all the more precious in this post katrina era)

Alison Eastwood , clint's real life daughter, also gives an amazing performance for a child actor. She should have been awarded more plum parts during that period of her life because of it. It was easily jodie foster- dakota fanning level.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2005
This Eastwood film portrays a much darker view of life than previous Eastwood efforts. A very suspenseful and gripping film. In it, Eastwood plays Detective Wes Block. Block is pursuing a serial killer who is murdering prostitutes in the seedy underside of New Orleans. Block finds himself strangely drawn into this underworld and walking the "tightrope" between right and wrong, good and evil, as he balances his search for the killer. Meanwhile, his behavior eerily shadows the killer's deviant pursuits quite often leaving the viewer gasping in shock.

In the role of a rape counselor is Genevieve Bujold, as Beryl Thibodeaux. An excellent counterbalance to Block, she plays on the tightrope, too. We watch as his tendency towards the lurid develops, yet her job is one of comforter and defender of those who are victems of violence and also to prevent violence against women. Their attraction creates an interesting tension during the film.

Another interesting feature of "Tightrope" is how it shows the difficulty Wes Block faces raising two daughters as a single father, especially given the nature of his job. Eastwood's real-life daughter, Alison, plays one of the daughters in this film. Without giving away too much of the plot, I should say that mentally and physically there is some threat to the family.

Overall, I would say that this film is one of Eastwood's best efforts, although it has been somewhat overlooked. For true Eastwood fans, I feel it is truly worth watching. Highest ratings.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2006
Here is a very, very tense thriller about a New Orleans cop (Clint Eastwood) finding a serial killer.....and vice-versa.

This is a very dark (literally) film with a big film-noir look and feel. Neo-noir, I guess, is what they call post-1950 gritty crime films like these.

Eastwood's character in "Tightrope" is a complex one. On one hand, he's a wonderfully loving father of two sweet girls (one played by his actual daughter, and played well), and yet he is a weak man when it comes to prostitutes. But, whatever side he shows - light or dark - he's interesting, as always. So is the female star of this movie, Genevieve Bujold, a woman with a very intriguing face and just a trace of her French accent. Dan Heyada contributes strongly in a low- key performance.

Yes, this film is a bit too much on the seedy side for my normal tastes, definitely sordid, but very well done. It's a story that grabs you early and locks you in all the way.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 1999
Tightrope is probably the most unusual Clint Eastwood film. But its also a brilliant film in dealing with his characters dark side and similarities with the killer. I also think that Alison Eastwood, Clint's real life daughter, gives a great performance. It's not annoying or badly done like some child actors would do. But be warned that Tightrope is extremely sexually explicit and very violent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 26, 2006
Clint portrays the dark side of a homicide cop who is investigating a series of murders in New Orleans. While Clint is a single father and has a menagerie of dogs at home, he also has kinky sex with prostitutes. The killer he is targeting becomes aware of Clint's proclivities and uses this to taunt Clint. An interesting tale of the tension of opposites and the need to reconcile them.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 21, 2007
I recently "discovered" the genius of Clint Eastwood ... and I have a lot of catching up to do. After seeing this film, I have a deeper appreciation for this performer's tremendous range.

Of the film itself, it is phenomenally gripping and complex. I was stunned at the "grey area" this work explores. Contemporary mainstream film often writes "black and white" characters: this character is "good," that one "bad." So tedious is this trend, that many critical viewers have abandoned "Hollywood" films entirely. Nonetheless, "Tightrope" illustrates that Hollywood once created deep, rich characters. Tuggle's work toys with a seeming contradiction: that Eastwood's character is a loving single-father to two young, sensitive girls AND that he has shockingly misogynistic impulses. The audience views Eastwood's character, Captain Block, indulge his sexual aggression with prostitutes (which is perhaps a result of his bitter divorce or perhaps a genuine aspect of his personality) and then return home to gently tuck his children into bed. This is jarring! Moreover, that Captain Block's love-interest is a powerful, rape-defense instructor only complicates his very human character. Eastwood enacts this multi-faceted role with absolute precision.

The casting is remarkable!! That Tuggle cast an "average" (read: unconventionally attractive) actress to play Eastwood's love-interest is ingenious. Geneviève Bujold plays the aforementioned defense-expert. As Beryl Thibodeaux, Bujold is the perfect counterpart to Eastwood. While intrigued by Captain Block, Thibodeaux quickly detects his misogynist tendencies and indicates that she will not be another conquest, but an equal. For instance, while on their first lunch date, Block tells Thibodeaux, "[I wonder] what it would be like to lick the sweat off your body." Her reaction is perfect: she is not angry, she is not aroused, she merely states that he could attempt a bit more subtlety ... that he could express a sentiment to her that he does not express to every woman he meets. It is both clever and progressive.

When watching this film, I wonder where these complicated works are today. I think Hollywood should take a lesson from Tuggle's work and show its audience characters who are both good parents and professionals with deep "flaws" (and the manner in which Block comes to terms with his sadistic side is quite compelling ... but no spoilers here!!) Block's humanity is excellently portrayed ... and I am continuing my exploration of Eastwood films hoping to find more of this!

Watch this film if you are interested in 1980's Hollywood, Eastwood's films, crime dramas, or the use of "strong women" in male-dominated films.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2006
Perverse, voyeuristic and nightmarish are not words commonly associated with Clint Eastwood's oeuvre, but in 1984 Richard Tuggle on the strength of his story was given the opportunity by Eastwood to direct his first film. The result is a seedy stroll through the backstreets and whorehouses of New Orleans. The success of the film relies on Eastwood's willingness to manipulate and subvert his iconic screen image. Since the warm comic capers of "Every Which Way But Loose" Eastwood had shown a propensity to experiment with his characters. This reaches something of an apex in the trouble and haunted homicide detective Wes Block. Block finds himself empathising a little too much with the serial killer who is plaguing the warm New Orleans nights. Adding to Block's complexity is a turbulent family life in which he is the single parent of two young children and a blossoming romance. The film really gets to grips with psychology of the serial killer as Block attempts to get inside his mind, the revelation that Block finds himself enjoying certain perverse delights creates a wonderful tension in the film that implicates Block as a possible suspect. Another major success of the film is the location, New Orleans beats not with life, but with death as the Mardi Gras takes a back seat and Tuggle explores the dark and seamy nightlife of this soulful and mysterious town. Ultimately this film is the real Dirty Harry, with the emphasis on Dirty. "Tightrope" is to the Eastwood detective image/film what "Unforgiven" was to his western image, a deconstruction of myths and iconic status. It deserves re-appraisal.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2000
Tightrope opens with the familiar credits that mark most of Clint Eastwood's films : Malpaso films presents...over an arial shot of car crossing a bridge. What is most surprising about this film is that writer/director Richard Tuggle uses the familiar framework of the "serial killer" movie to explore themes of guilt, sadomasochism, sexism and paranoia. Even more surprising is the fact that he explores those qualties in his hero, not the killer.
Eastwood stars as Wes Block, a New Orleans cop investigating the murders of several prostitutes who were tortured, raped and strangled. On his journey through the brothels of the city we sense that he has been there before, not as cop, but as a customer. Eastwood has the usual throwaway lines that have made his Harry Callahan character so famous, as when a prostitute apporches him "Want some honey?", "I don't eat sweets" he replies. But where Callahan draws knowing smirks from the audience, Block only draws gasps. Eastwood lets us know that any outward confidence he projects is merely a mask over his guilt. This leads to an early riveting scene where he interviews a hooker about her murdered friend "Did she mention anybody using handcuffs?" he asks. "I think it was a cop, maybe it was you" she jokes. The look on Eastwood's is face is one of such anguish, that he may even suspect himself. This one of Eastwood's best and bravest performances.
The scenes in the brothels and over the corpses are contrasted with surprisingly warm domestic scenes of Block the single parent raising his two daughters. The contrast is alarming, and the children are perhaps the only reason why he hasn't gone over the edge just yet. There is a particularly chilling suggestion in Tightrope that Block maybe vicariously living his fantasies through the killer.
On a physcological level the film is an original, where it falters is the plot. Perhaps inorder to get the film made, Tuggle was forced to add all the well worn cliches, such as the obligatory chase climax and the unmasking of the killer. He also has a tendancy to hammer home his points, as in the unnessecary dream sequence where Eastwood imagines he is the killer.
Some could persuasively argue the film wallows in excesses of depravity. I would disagree, an exploitation film tries to find a token story to hold acres of naked flesh and gore. A real film is driven to these taboo places BY its story. Tightrope is a real film. In its moody and intelligent way it suggests an innate depravity within the mildest of men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Clint Eastwood's 1984 "Tightrope" is a daring step away from his more familiar "Harry Callahan" tough cop movie personna. Wes Block is a nuanced role for Eastwood, a middle-aged New Orleans cop, unhappily divorced and raising two young daughters on his own. Just to make it interesting, Block has a drinking problem, an unhealthy interest in kinky sex, a serial murderer of prostitutes loose in the French Quarter, and a pushy female from a rape crisis center demanding action.

Block works the case, finding himself tempted by the prostitutes he interviews, and discovering too many of them mysteriously dead in his wake, suggesting the killer is taunting Block. Wes and the rape counselor (Geneviere Bujold) find they have something in common, just as the serial killer begins to close in on Wes and his family...

"Tightrope" makes full use of its New Orleans venue, including lots of dark scenes in the French Quarter and along the Mississippi, backed by a nicely arranged jazz movie score. Eastwood gets to interact with real-life daughter Allison, and work out an interesting relationship with the rape counselor. The murder mystery itself is a little underdeveloped; the muderer is pretty much a mystery to the audience as well as to the cast until the final scenes. "Tightrope" is highly recommended to Clint Eastwood fans.
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