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Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights (1990)

Director: John Schlesinger
Cast overview: Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine
Running time: 102 minutes

I was drawn to this film for two reasons mainly: firstly, the plot synopsis seemed interesting and I loved San Francisco when I visited last year. I'm certainly pleased I watched it - it's an intriguing film that centres around a young couple that buy their dream house in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco, only for their dream home to become a living nightmare residence when the tenant from hell - wonderfully played by Michael Keaton, I must say - moves in. Keaton's portrayal really was excellent, both chilling and sly. His character is a conniving genius who misappropriates others' money in order for personal advancement and self-gain. I can't fault Keaton's acting at all. Matthew Modine was pretty decent as well as Drake Goodman - well-named as his character is just that, a good man (albeit one driven to violence by the cunning Hayes).

The acting is a little hammy at times, and I think Griffith grows into the film rather than being good from the start. Some of the notable supporting cast I noticed were Tippi Hedren in a very small, non-speaking part - I've just realised as well that she's Griffith's mother, and the lawyer from Dirty Harry also features. Those are just personal diversions - neither play big roles.

I did feel the film dragged at times, and it does feel a bit like a TV movie at times, which is why my score for it isn't as high as it perhaps would have been, but the nail-biting finale was terrific. Complete with nail guns and spikes and all manner of improvised weaponry, the climax to the film is indeed satisfying.

Overall, this is a good film with some decent acting, particularly from Keaton, but the slightly bloated script and occasional vagueness brings it down a tad from what it could have been. It's also psychological and the mysterious and intriguing tone it takes makes it a worthwhile watch for most movie fans.

Carter Hayes: [to Drake] You're a brave and stupid man.

Drake Goodman: [as they are house painting] You have to remember this is an investment, Patty. You can't afford to do everything at once.
Patty Palmer: It's not just an investment - it's our home.

Drake Goodman: [Referring to the house] Whatta yuh think?
Dennis Reed: 750 grand, hunh? It's not a song - it's an opera.

The home of Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine is not in Pacific Heights at all, but right across town in San Francisco's Potrero Hill district at the corner of Texas & 19th Street.

This is ranked at the No. #93 rank on Bravo's "The 100 Scariest Movie Moments" list.

Film critic Janet Maslin in 'The New York Times' wrote that this film was "perhaps the first eviction thriller".