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A Perfect Murder

movie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael P. Moran, Novella Nelson, David Suchet, Constance Towers

Review by David Wilcock
1 star out of 4

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

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