In the late 60s and early 70s women experienced the emancipation of their sexuality. The equality between men and women was established; non-conjugal sex, nudity, non-heterosexual relationships and contraception led to the liberation of sexuality. A real freedom of the body, and from now on women were in complete control of their body.
Alan J. Pakula illustrated this phenomenon in his 1971 thriller movie, Klute. Interpreted by Jane Fonda, Bree Daniels is a call girl (a perfect job example of body control) involved in a murder. She encounters a private detective, John Klute (a cold but warm, secret Donald Sutherland), who is searching for his, probably dead, friend, Tom Gruneman. She was linked to Tom through (dirty) letters he would have wrote to her.
Apart from a well sewed screenplay where Jane Fonda’s monologues are worthing more than a thousand passages of 50 Shades of Grey, Klute innovated the thriller movies genre, sprinkled by some romance and social context.
Every pimp, showed as wealthy and powerful, in the film are women, every clues of the investigation are women. The topic of interest is women. And this their emancipation, permitting them to grow into strong, mysterious and fascinating creatures. However, it is showed that, their complete fulfillment can’t be without love. That’s why the movie is called Klute, and not “Bree” of “Daniels”. It is implicitly saying, that the detective, John, is the last piece of Bree’s the puzzle. It is saying that women need men, or at least someone who will make them feel something, to be “complete”. The character of Daniels isn’t satisfied sexually, and here is the paradox. In a context of sexual liberation, she is not physically satisfied, she just enjoys giving pleasure to others, and when she finds out about the joys of consent sex with someone she loves, it scared her and she tried to destroy that.
Pakula is showing this transition women have experienced in the 70s.
If Jane Fonda won every possible best actress awards for her role in the film, is because of her “so human” acting. She performed Bree not like any other actress would have performed her, she didn’t think of the character as someone she was not, but like a women we could all be or meet. A women of her time, learning about herself, and that’s why in the movie she can’t be an actress, she’s missing self-confidence and experience.
Jane Fonda, known as an activist, feminist and politically involved, took some pleasure to perform Bree’s character, and we can see and feel that.
Alan Pakula, offered her a way to flourish her self through this movie and served an unexpectedly human thriller.