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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Identity

Starring: John Cusack, Alfred Molina
Director: James Mangold
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: April 2003
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Amanda Peet, Ray Liotta, Rebecca DeMornay, Clea Duvall, John C. McGinley, Jake Busey, William Lee Scott, John Hawkes

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Here's the set-up for this psychological thriller: ten strangers are trapped in the midst of a torrential rainstorm in a remote desert motel only to be murdered one-by-one. Whodunit?

There's a righteous, enterprising limo driver (John Cusack) who claims to have once been with the LAPD. He's chauffeuring a self-absorbed, temperamental aging actress (Rebecca DeMornay) when they run into a stranded family (Leila Kenzle, Bret Loehr, John C. McGinley). There's a nervous, incompetent corrections officer (Ray Liotta) who's transporting a convicted killer (Jake Busey), who's intent on escape. There's the seedy, skittish motel manager (John Hawkes) who's keeping secrets. There are the bickering newlyweds (Clea DuVall, William Lee Scott). There's a tough call-girl (Amanda Peet), heading from Las Vegas to an orange grove in Florida. And the motel itself is situated on a sacred Indian burial ground.

Screenwriter Michael Cooney ("Jack Frost") and director James Mangold ("Kate & Leopold") make it clear that each clich‚ character is not exactly who he or she seems nor, in fact, is the set-up. But that's about all I can tell you because, like "Memento" and "The Sixth Sense," the unusual concept is an integral part of the intense puzzle in which the rain pelts the windows, the wind blows, the doors creak and a gruesome menace lurks behind every shadow, particularly in the laundromat. Of course there's the final - "Ah, ha!" moment - when you realize what's going on, but it takes a long time to get there and frustration can be an unwelcome passenger on this particular journey. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Identity" is a cleverly creepy, enigmatic 6 - but only if you're not squeamish and into mind-teasing avant-garde film-making.

Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger

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