Review of Caught (1996)

Caught is a clever little film that answers the question of how a noir can be made in the 1990s, when having an affair is not likely to cause scandal or unemployment. Like classic films noir, the illicit passion two (and more) characters have for each other has deadly consequences. However, much of the film's punch comes from a dynamic that could not have been made explicit in classic noir.

In Double Indemnity, the protagonist is punished for disrupting the nuclear family. In High Sierra, the protagonist is punished for desiring a comfortable domestic life. And in Caught, Nick experiences both dynamics.

Even the film's title relies on a key noir theme: fate. From the beginning and through the film, Nick keeps telling himself to leave the situation he's gotten in. But he can't--or doesn't want to, even at the bitter end.

The viewer also becomes caught in this film, even as halfway through the end becomes clear. Arie Verveen, later repulsively savage and cruel in The Thin Red Line, is the classic noir hero--his face shows little emotion, as if he were caught in a nightmare, but he is sympathetic. Relishing his unsympathetic role is Steven Shub, the repulsive son. But the film's centre is Maria Conchita Alonso, who makes us understand why Nick chooses to remain caught.

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