Before the remake of Psycho appears, we've got to suffer through this remake
of an earlier Hitchcock film, Dial M For Murder. As usual, Hollywood has
filled it with glitz and big name stars, and it all amounts to a loud
sounding nothing. The film opens with Emily (Paltrow) and David (Viggo
Mortensen) 'having fun' in an loft apartment. The problem is, Paltrow is
married to Stephen (Douglas), who is not too happy when he discovers this
affair. If I was Paltrow, though, I'd definitely go with Mortensen. Less
wrinkles. Anyhow, Stephen approaches David with an interesting proposition:
he'll pay him to kill his lovely wife. Mortensen agrees, but the murder goes
awry, and the twists keep on coming as the film progresses.
Unfortunately, the film dosen't progress very fast. In fact, it moves like a
tortoise with arthritis (read: very, very s-l-o-w.) The plot moves nowhere
fast, and only becomes exciting in very short bursts. Not too good for a
'thriller.' Also, the performances, apart from Douglas, are below par.
Paltrow, showing immense talent in Se7en (1995) and Sliding Doors (1997) is
strangely stilted, even unconvincing, in this movie. Mortensen is a little
bit better, coming across as a younger Douglas, but his role isn't meaty
enough to show all his talent. Which leaves Douglas to waltz away with the
film, which is does. However, I doubt Douglas finds it very hard to play a
stogie smoking, drinking womanizer with a creepy underside. Also popping up
in the film is David Suchet, playing a shifty looking detective. Again, it's
not a character we're seeing on the screen, it's David Suchet.
The director, who bought us The Fugitive, piles on all the flash techniques,
such as zoom-in's, quick cuts, etc. The lighting is also interesting.
However, looks can't save this film from the depths of mediocre, and the
film seemed to work better in a single set anyway. The screenplay is O.K,
but there's some hackneyed sub-plot about Douglas being a ruthless player on
Wall Street (again) and the ending is surprisingly stupid and cliched. The
characters also make incredibly dumb moves, especially Paltrow, and Stephen
appears to lose all intelligence in the last reel.
With a combination of no tension, drama, or decent characters, A Perfect
Murder is a failure all round, and an incredible disappointment. There are a
few bright moments, but they are far and few between. The last thing a
thriller should be is boring, and although the film just barely manages to
keep your interest thanks to Michael Douglas, you wouldn't be missing
anything if you decided not to watch A Perfect Murder.
Copyright © 1998 David Wilcock