The Long Goodbye review

Showing as part of the NFT's two-month Robert Altman season is an extended run of The Long Goodbye, his iconoclastic adaptation of the celebrated Raymond Chandler novel.

Altman updated the tale to the early '70s, with Philip Marlowe no longer a hard-boiled hero but a shambling anachronism, out of step with modern life. Investigating his friend Terry Lennox's supposed suicide, the sleuth (a wonderfully dishevelled Elliott Gould) finds himself threatened by a vicious mobster and caught up in the strange events at the home of an alcoholic writer (Sterling Hayden) and his beautiful wife (NinaVan Pallandt).

Subverting genre to telling effect, Altman ensures that the values of his central character are at odds with his society's cynicism. Vilmos Zsigmond's shallow-focus cinematography, the haunting music, the overlapping dialogue and leisurely storytelling all make this one of Altman's finest achievements.

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