review for The Last Embrace on AllMovie

The Last Embrace (1979)
by Richard Gilliam review

Jonathan Demme's first big-budget studio production is an interesting precursor to his 1991 success The Silence of the Lambs. The style of the film is deliberately Hitchcockian -- right down to the bell-tower reference to Vertigo (1958) -- but, unlike lesser copy-cats, Demme has a unique viewpoint under the homage. His characters are complex people with realistic moral ambiguities, and Roy Scheider, in a subtle, often non-verbal characterization, gives one of his best performances as the paranoid hero. In contrast to his previous role as the confident protagonist of All That Jazz (1978), Scheider's character shows doubts about himself, what he believes, and what he has done in the past. This was also one of the most memorable roles in Janet Margolin's career.