Evelyn Mulwray (née Cross) is the deuteragonist of the 1974 neo-noir mystery film Chinatown. She's the daughter of the wealthy businessman Noah Cross, as well as the widowed wife of co-owner of the water company Hollis Mulwray.
She was portrayed by Faye Dunaway.
Why She Rocks
- Faye Dunaway gets to show off in action one of the greatest performances of her career as the broken down and mysterious woman.
- Like a majority of the characters in the film, he serves as a deconstruction of a film noir trope. In Evelyn's case, she's meant to poke fun of the femme fatale detective always encounter. Sure, she's a beautiful elegant woman who is cold and aloof in public, but rather than being an evil vamp, she's actually a deeply vulnerable victim of abuse trying to hide her suffering from a uncaring world and society. She literally has no one to turn to in the patriarchal America of her time, and the great effort that she does to help her and her daughter/sister comes undone precisely because of the misogynistic assumptions that even the hero Jake Gittes' shares and upholds.
- Speaking of which, her sad, twisted past of abuse is incredibly shocking and powerful. Evelyn and her father, Noah, conceived a child together, against the Evelyn's will, and she was basically a victim of rape -- when she was 15 years old no less! So now in the present, Evelyn's trying to escape Noah's clutches, running away with her sister/daughter, who's nearly grown to adulthood. leaving her in constant fear over whether anything additionally harmful would occur or if anyone would ever catch on.
- Prior to her reveal, she's had various signs she was hiding something that are handled quite well. She quickly—very quickly— dismisses any threat of a lawsuit against Jake after he accidentally frames her husband for adultery. Then when Jake got suspicious, she dismisses the idea, claiming that she wasn't sleeping with him anymore, and that she was free to have affairs herself.
- She's proven to be very protective towards her husband keeping him from falsely accusations and she's also knows about just how nasty her father is, which was why she kept her "sister" hidden away and escape town with her away from their father in order to prevent any further harm to come his way. So even though she's clearly still traumatized from the event, she's still brave and bold enough to take matters into her own hands, which makes me even more depressing when she meets her untimely demise.