This film had so much going it. I mean, come on! Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson as adulterous lovers plotting murder? That formula sounds like a great film. So does it live up to the expectations? Well to be honest The Postman Always Rings Twice is a mixed bag. It has truly great things in it and things that work. Unfortunately some wrong turns are made, which keeps this from being a total success. The problem here is that the narrative gets out of hand and lacks focus; it’s a shame because everything else is so well done.
The film’s biggest positives are the two leads. Lange and Nicholson both give truly electric performances and have an abundance of steamy chemistry. Both are extremely talented actors, and not to downplay Nicholson’s performance here, but I feel like Lange really is the star. She is able to take almost complete control of all the scenes she’s in and convey a incredible amount of raw emotion that makes you connect with her character. The range she presents is also very impressive, it swings from desperation to passion to anger, and she nails it every time. Besides Lange’s obvious talent, the other reason she is the star here is because her character is undoubtedly the most interesting. Nicholson definitely has his moments, but when he and Lange shared a scene, your eyes were focused on her for sure.
The sexual chemistry these two share is truly incredible. There are many love scenes between them, each very passionate. They really pull off the extreme passion and it comes across very genuine. I like the rough nature of the love scenes too because it shows the tumultuous, larger than life electricity that exists between them. While these sex scenes are very passionate and rough, they never feel exploitative or pornographic. It’s not excess just for the hell of it, these scenes are effective in establishing the nature of their relationship.
The film does a good job of keeping your attention up until the last half hour. When a certain point is reached, you wonder what else there is to cover? I was hoping some kind of twist was going to pop up, something interesting to fill this remaining time. Unfortunately, that does not happen and the film just kind of goes off the rails. Two things come along in that stretch that you’d think would go somewhere, but they’re introduced and then oddly dismissed for no reason.
I felt very confused as I watched all this unfold towards the end because why introduce not one, but two things that could make for interesting plot devices just to dismiss them? Then the ending was just a mess; it was so disappointing to see it all end in a poor manner because the first half of the film is effective in building up suspense. The ending is very abrupt and feels nonsensical and strange.
I’m surprised the film took the turns it did because I feel like the first half deserves a much tighter second half. The plot is so innately intriguing and has potential for a great film, but you’ve got to be able to execute it properly and stick the landing. I can’t really talk too much about what the things are that they do that messes it up because of spoilers, but suffice to say that it feels very off. A film of this type needs to be focused and I just don’t feel this one is.
I recommend watching this film just because the performances (Lange’s in particular) are so incredible. I wish I could give it a big thumbs up as a whole but the execution of the plot lacks focus and begins to derail towards the end.