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Reckoning

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PERFECT MURDER, A

SYNOPSIS:
Millionaire industrialist Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) has everything except what he craves most - the love and fidelity of his wife Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow), his most treasured acquisition. But Emily wants and needs more than just a role as a dazzling accessory in her husbandís world. Brilliant and sophisticated, Emily, who works as a multi-lingual translator and aide to the US Amabassador to the United Nations, has been involved with David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen), a talented but struggling artist. When Steven learns the truth, a scheme as complex as a lethal board game is put in motion. A perfect murder - with Emily as the target.

"There are problems with the remake of a well-loved classic. While this new offering is slick and well made with eminently watchable stars, A Perfect Murder falls down with the script. Itís half way through the film before there is genuine suspense; we care too little for the characters at the beginning, while towards the end, the action is unbelievable and melodramatic. But still, thereís something to recommend this handsome production. The actors are compelling: Michael Douglas, in a Gordon Gekko-like role, and Gwenyth Paltrow, both give strong and appealing performances, although it is hard to understand the basis of their relationship. While possessing a younger, beautiful trophy wife is the rationale for Steven, it is not clear what is in it for Emily. Emilyís relationship with David (Viggo Mortensen) seems to be based on sex; but the script keeps mentioning the word ĎloveíÖ The two worlds of the rich and the poor are clearly contrasted, and thereís much to oogle at in the Taylorís plush apartment, with a kitchen to die for, original artworks and a large sunken bath. Why, in all this opulence and in this day and age, isnít there a phone in the bathroom? But then, this is one of the translation problems for a story that worked so well in 1954. David Suchetís wonderful performance as the police officer adds an extra dimension, while James Newton Howardís chilling, moody score and clever editing accentuate the tension of this tale of passion, blackmail, infidelity and greed."
Louise Keller

"A Perfect Murder is a perfect example of how slippery and intangible the elements are for a perfect film. Like the recipe for a great dish, you can gather all the right ingredients, the best produce, follow the directions Ė oooops, thereís the problem. You canít follow the directions. The subtleties and nuances that drive a top director are instinctive and personal, as much as they are technical and cultural (both film cultural and socially). This film with its top cast and technical superiority, has all the ingredients, but the cook has somehow messed up the timing and the heat, resulting in an overcooked yet underdone movie meal, looking all the sorrier for its pedigree Ė from Hitchcock to Douglas and Paltrow. Itís not a bad film, of course, but itís the fast food version of the real meal."
Andrew L. Urban



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 2

See our DVD REVIEW

PERFECT MURDER, A (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Viggo Mortensen, David Suchet, Sarita Choudhury, Michael P.l Moran, Novella Nelson, Constance Towers, Will Lyman

DIRECTOR: Andrew Davis

PRODUCER: Arnold Kopelson, Anne Kopelson, Christopher Mankiewicz, Peter MacGregor-Scott

SCRIPT: Patrick Smith Kelly (Based on play Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dariusz Wolski

EDITOR: Dennis Virkler

MUSIC: James Newton Howard

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Rosenberg

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: October 15, 1998

Video Release: May 11, 1999
Video Distributor: Warner Home Video







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