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Chinatown

Film

Noah Cross

Characters Noah Cross

On the surface, Noah Cross appears to be a pleasant, jovial man. His speech is easy and untroubled, and his facial expressions remain open and friendly no matter what he’s saying. He has a knowing, faintly chauvinistic charm and a ready smile that manages to avoid any trace of psychosis or cruelty. As we discover, however, this harmless, appealing exterior renders the inner, sociopathic nature that it hides all the more frightening. Cross feels that neither society’s laws nor the basic laws of human decency should apply to him, and he treats human life with contempt. When asked about the rape of his daughter, he blames his actions on the depths of depravity people are capable of sinking to, but he gives the explanation with such utter calmness that it’s clear he doesn’t feel that he’s lowered himself at all. If Cross has a basic drive beyond self-interest, it is his need to control everything around him. From the town’s water supply to the profitable valley land to Evelyn’s and Katherine’s innocence, anything he feels might have value must be firmly in his possession.