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Murder By Numbers

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Murder By Numbers

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Rated: R
RunTime: 125 Minutes
Release Date: April 2002
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Michael Pitt, Chris Penn, Ben Chaplin

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

Although movie reviewing is supposed to be objective, occasionally subjectivity arises - and that's certainly the case with this psychological thriller about two affluent teenagers who try to commit the perfect murder. In Chicago, back in 1924, Leopold & Loeb did the same thing - and their intended victim was my father, Armand Deutsch, who had a dentist appointment that day, so little Bobby Franks was kidnapped and killed. Over the years, that historic case inspired films like "Rope," "Compulsion" and "Swoon." But since the horror of Columbine three years ago, there's been a tacit agreement in Hollywood not to glorify high-school killers. Which is why I was surprised to discover that, in this film, Sandra Bullock plays a dogged detective with a sordid, secret past who - with her new, mild-mannered partner, Ben Chaplin - is investigating a grisly, mysterious murder in the small, fictional California town of San Benito. Although the microscopic evidence points elsewhere, she immediately suspects two bright, spoiled teenagers (Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt) who enjoy a hedonistic, homerotic relationship with little or no parental supervision. Problem is: the boys are competing for the affections of a comely classmate (Agnes Bruckner) - and that rivalry compromises their sinister pact. The acting is effectively convincing but Tony Gayton's shallow screenplay - which is almost completely lacking in suspense - and Barbet Schroeder's plodding pacing postpone until too late the mind games revolving around the psychological ramifications of murder. Repeated several times, the Nietzsche-inspired mantra - "We cannot live fully without embracing suicide and crime" - is chilling. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Murder by Numbers" is an irresponsible 4, glorifying cold, calculated killing.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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