Pacific Heights (1990) starring Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine, Michael Keaton, Tippi Hedren directed by John Schlesinger Movie Review

Pacific Heights (1990)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Michael Keaton in Pacific Heights (1990)

When the Landlord Pays

Patty (Melanie Griffith) and boyfriend Drake (Matthew Modine) have brought themselves a large Victorian house to do up and rent out rooms and they need to have paying residents as they are stretched to the max. And all is going well as they are extremely thorough when it comes to checking out their tenants before allowing them to move in. But one person slips though the net, Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton) a seemingly well off businessman who just moves in before they have finished running their checks on him and doesn't wire the money to them like he promised. He also moves in an eccentric friend and between them start causing chaos with noise and bugs not only causing Patty and Drake distress but leading to their other residents to move out and drive a wedge between tem.

When I think through the decades and the movies I would watch the first half of the 90s were the thriller era for me. From women who taunt police to psychos who take up residence I couldn't get enough of them and "Pacific Heights" was one of those movies which I remember enjoying back on its release. Unfortunately like so many movies "Pacific Heights" hasn't aged well and whilst visually it is still effective the slowness and repetitive nature of it are now distinct issues. Maybe these were back in 1990 but as a then almost twenty year old I didn't notice them.

Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine in Pacific Heights (1990)

The thing about "Pacific Heights" and the biggest issue for me is that its repetitive nature lets it down. We watch as the mysterious Carter Hayes does something which annoys the other residents and it causes Drake stress and to take matters in to his own hands which causes things to spiral further and further out of control. Why? Well that is supposedly one of the things which are meant to keep us watching but it is not intriguing enough to work. The thing is that the premise is good and John Schlesinger's style with some nice camera work and location shots is still very effective but watching "Pacific Heights" now and you feel it needs another layer to make it work.

What also doesn't work is the believability of Griffith and Modine as a couple as they don't have great chemistry. They individually play their parts well but the scenes of them together don't scream couple. But then you have Michael Keaton who thanks to Schlesinger's frequent use of the dark brings out his sinister side quite brilliantly. Again there is still something missing but Keaton is the best thing about the movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Pacific Heights" is one of those movies which whilst worked on its original release now has lost something in the intervening years. It is still entertaining with a good performance from Michael Keaton but it quickly becomes repetitive and lacking that something extra to make it work.