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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 MrBrown
2 stars out of 4

The murder may be perfect, but Andrew Davis's loose update of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 classic _Dial_M_for_Murder_ is not even close. Davis and screenwriter Patrick Smith Kelly have come up with an interesting wrinkle to Frederick Knott's original play: a wealthy industrialist (Michael Douglas) wants to kill his adulterous heiress wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) for the money, but in this version, the person he hires to do the job is the lover himself (Viggo Mortensen). Also, for the most part, Davis and Kelly have successfully opened up the action of the original, which largely took place on a single apartment set.

But, as is the case with too many remakes, the slick new take falls short. Generally speaking, Douglas, Paltrow, and Mortensen deliver passable performances, but Douglas lacks the complexity of _Dial_M_'s Ray Milland; he is a bit too one-note evil that it's hard to believe that anyone could suspect anyone other than him (not helping are some obvious up-to-no-good lines, such as this reply to Paltrow's request that a lunch date be postponed until the next day: "What if there's no tomorrow?"). Nonetheless, Davis manages to generate some tension, yet this is squandered by the uninspired finale, which bears the unmistakable fingerprints of post-test screening retooling. Watch closely, and you'll notice an underscored detail that is not picked up on in the finale, much like how the final, post-test version of _Fatal_Attraction_ lets a similar matter dangle.

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