Violence and gentrification in John Schlesinger’s Pacific Heights.
“This is our home. This is all happening to us in our home.”
That is the sound of a white woman’s despair. It’s the second act break of the domestic thriller Pacific Heights, and Patty (Melanie Griffith) has just realized that her stupid, pseudo-liberal boyfriend and her smart, pseudo-liberal self are no match for their leering, destructive tenant (Michael Keaton), a failed trust-fund sociopath with a who-me? grin and a twofold goal: first destroy her home from the inside out, and then grab it for himself. Not to live in it, but to profit from its collapse.
When Pacific Heights was released in 1990, critics were puzzled and more than a little contemptuous of the workaday “real-estate thriller” directed by John Schlesinger in his post–Marathon Man slump. Patty and her boyfriend, Drake (Matthew Modine), are unmarried yuppies who’ve pooled their resources to buy an albatross of a Victorian fixer-upper in San Francisco’s rapidly gentrifying Pacific Heights neighborhood. They fudge the numbers on their mortgage application—“Everybody does it,” bleats Drake—and stay afloat by renting out two units to tenants. Read More