When mild mannered, unattached auditor Jonathan McQuarry (Ewan McGregor) meets man about town corporate lawyer Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), he is drawn into a world of secret rendezvous with beautiful and successful women who want 'intimacy without intricacy' in their busy lives. Just as the novelty almost wears off, Jonathan falls for one of these mysterious women, he knows only as S (Michelle Williams). After she disappears mysteriously, leaving blood stains behind in their hotel room, Jonathan discovers that Wyatt is not what he seems and Jonathan's professional access to his next corporate client's secret accounts hold the key to getting S back.
Review by Louise Keller:
With all the ingredients of a steamy holiday page turner, Deception is a melodramatic thriller with intriguing but highly fantastic elements. Dull, bespectacled accountant suddenly gets access to a Sex Club, where the girls are as discreet as they are hot. Hugh Jackman is credited as one of the producers for this project that relies not only on his appeal as he is cast against type, but also that of Ewan McGregor who plays the naive protagonist swept into a glamorous but dangerous world. Michelle Williams' fragile blonde is the catalyst for the action as the two men bond before battling wits in a bid to break through the façade.
Jackman's Wyatt is everything McGregor's Jonathan is not. He's confident, suave and successful with no shortage of beautiful women. Their friendship begins with an after hours joint as Jonathan is going through the company books. Suddenly, Jonathan is left with Wyatt's phone and he gingerly steps into the other man's life. The first encounters with seemingly unattainable women in upmarket hotels are played for all they are worth and it's fun to go along with the ride. To make the fantasy even more beguiling, imagine Charlotte Rampling playing a Wall Street financier who is a sucker for bashful boys, satisfying her urges in late night encounters. This is a case of intriguing casting, indeed. Jonathan's sexual adventures begin as intimacy without intricacy, but he quickly finds himself floundering in a quicksand of lies.
Screenwriter Mark Bomback's plot is unashamedly over the top, yet Deception is enjoyable on its own terms. It boasts a fabulous music score whose enigmatic sound scape enhances the tension as Jonathan finds himself in a bind both professionally and emotionally. Performances are all excellent with Jackman callously sleazy, countering McGregor's honest accountant whose experience with figures have until now been restricted to the books, while Williams is suitably vulnerable. First time director Marcel Langenegger delivers a slick thriller that looks great, even though its plot points may not always make total sense.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Mark Bomback's screenplay relies on a sleight of hand to get away with serial implausibilities in this slick and engaging thriller. The New York setting in which high powered men and women meet anonymously for high class sex in top hotels (via a simple mobile phone-based system known as The List; password: Are you free tonight?) creates a diversion and a distraction for our critical faculties. Even Charlotte Rampling shows up as one of the women in on The List. (She is later featured on the cover of a business magazine...) If you cast aside your incredulity, though, it's a work of escapist entertainment with lots going for it. Hugh Jackman plays the superficially suave operator with a history of deception and a plan to make a financial killing. His best scenes are those in which he is dastardly nasty.
Ewan McGregor has the hard task of being a bland yet interesting enough Jonathan to make us care about his fate and his romance with S, played with vulnerable charm by Michelle Williams. Hers is the most interesting character, unfolding with the story, changing her life as a result - by choice. Since Jackman's company (Seed) is involved in the production, it's no surprise that he, an Aussie, is in a lead role. As for Scottish actor McGregor, who knows; in any case, their American accents are more or less workable.
There are some especially implausible aspects to the final scenes, but only if you're being picky. The film intends to be a character driven thriller, and those are good intentions. There is indeed a strong sense of the story being driven by character, but some of the elements are underdeveloped or ill conceived, and once the premise is revealed, there is a predictability to the unravelling that lessens the tension. Still, it's a well made thriller with a muscular score and great visuals.
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CAST: Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Maggie Q, Charlotte Rampling
PRODUCER: Hugh Jackman, Christopher Eberts, David L. Bushell, Robbie Brenner, John Palermo, Arnold Rifkin
DIRECTOR: Marcel Langenegger
SCRIPT: Mark Bomback
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dante Spinotti
EDITOR: Douglas Crise
MUSIC: Ramin Djawadi
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Patrizia von Brandenstein
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 24, 2008