"More frightening than romantic. That's what love is when you're young, and what life is when you're old." That's the kind of dialogue you might expect to hear in a slow-burning Ingrid Bergman weepy or the like, but it's actually a snippet from Woman on the Run, a noir thriller that moves at neck-breaker pace from beginning to end and barely stops long enough for people to exchange first names. The woman of the title finds herself in the position of needing to avoid both the cops and a killer, and to do that means staying mobile on the hilly streets of San Francisco and out-maneuvering everyone in her rear-view mirror. Helmed by Orson Wells collaborator Norman Foster, this film knows how to run and talk at the same time, which gives it a real-time quality not especially common in the noir genre. By the time the film hurls us into a high-velocity finish on a beachfront midway, we've got a surprisingly good bead on the characters and what makes them tick. We also need a whiplash exam. Even when everything finally stops moving, at the climax, there's a palpable vibration. The characters stand there, trembling from the force of a rickety wooden roller-coaster screaming over their heads, and the dialogue takes on an added layer of tension, as if the whole situation could splinter and fly apart at any moment.

categories Cinematical