Generally speaking there are certain constants one can expect form a noir film. Typically a noir film has a plot which depicts the dark and inhumane side of human nature with cynicism, and with emphasis on the brutal, unhealthy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience. In a film like Chinatown (1974), a modern-day film noirthriller, the criteria of the dark side of society is fulfilled by Jake\'s investigation of the deceiving world of high crime. Through hard-boiled character of Jake Gittes the audience is shown the facade that hides what is sinister and the corrupt in bleak world of noir. Nevertheless this dark element in the film contributes to a greater metaphoric symbol of noir\'s social comment about the malaises of society. Aside form the unsettling mood of alienation, disillusionment, disenchantment, and pessimism in the world of Chinatown. It shares great likeness with other classic noir films through its characters, particularly with its anti-hero, Jake Gittes and the enigmatic heroine Evelyn Mulray.
In film noir, men serve the purpose of the oedipal struggle between the son and individual against forces outside the realm of his control. The character of Jake reluctantly takes on this struggle as the leading male protagonist. Throughout the film Jake\'s investigation of the story, he uncovers secrets under many layers of coverups, and deception. In unraveling complicated facts, he is deliberately audacious and over confident in deriving explanations for the deeply flowing corruption he unearths. Moreover this is his undoing, compromising his approach to the case he has in turn offset the balance between the good and the evil in the noir scenario, by he himself being apart of the corrupt and indifferent in the noir world. Jake\'s flaws are meant to coincide with the dark world of the noir. He is the anti-hero with a tarnished past history. Although the film does not elaborate on the details about the tragedy that occurred in his past, it is clear that Jake had been affected deeply and it was the result of the whole attitude of indifference about every thing in Chinatown at the time. In Chinatown no one ever cared or did anything. As a result, Jake is more keen to corruption and the power of money than to the more immediately detrimental corruption of morals by Noah to his daughter Evelyn.
Despite Jake\'s failed attempt to uncover the mystery by himself, he is still given the chance to help right the wrongs of the noir world by helping the victimized Evelyn and her daughter Katherine escape the dark influence of the villainous father Noah. To Jake\'s dismay the child is not a vision of pureness, but an inbred offspring of immorality and lies. Eventually Jake reasoned that this was an opportunity for a new beginning, at least for those most affected by this world. Everyone has an afflicted past and a dark secret. This was his chance to bury the darkness for both himself and the child. But in the end, he\'s unable to break free from the constraints of money and power. Degradation prevails and Jake\'s left to think about how his fate is again shut down by these evil forces. His masculine instincts to separate good from evil - to save the good and punish the evil - has failed him in the metaphoric "real" world of Chinatown by the film\'s climax. Retrospectively, Gittes who is the protagonist of a modern-noir film is an innovation on the classical male protagonist. He unlike other noir heros fails to defeat the dark side of the noir world, instead he loses his femme fatale brings tragedy to his good woman.
Conversely women in film noir serve to express skepticism toward the family and the values that it supports. With few exceptions, noir films divide women into two categories: the femme fatale, an independent, ambitious woman who feels confined within a marriage or a closed male-female relationship and attempts to break free, usually with violent results; the nurturing woman, who is often depicted as dull, featureless, and, in the end, unattainable. Character of Evelyn is one such variation on the female in film noir. She effectively starts out on the femme fatale side of the spectrum and ended up in the role of the good