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UNDER SUSPICION

SYNOPSIS:
Wealthy taxation lawyer and prominent citizen Henry Hearst (Gene Hackman) stands accused of the rape and murder of two young girls. Brought in for questioning by Capt. Victor Benezet (Morgan Freeman) of the Puerto Rico police, Hearst denies the charges. As discrepancies in his testimony arise and details of his troubled marriage to Chantal (Monica Bellucci) are uncovered, the interrogator and the accused engage in a cat and mouse game of truth and deception.

"Opening (and closing soon) at Hoyts/Village George St in Sydney and the Myer Centre in Brisbane is a film which should feature prominently in next year's Golden Raspberry Awards. It had all the pre-conditions a connoisseur of the cinematic turkey could ask for. No critics preview screenings (in Sydney at least) or newspaper ads prior to release. In Sydney it wasn't even listed on the Hoyts web site on the morning of the day it made its less than triumphant bow in cinema 11. Just two sessions on opening day at 3.45 and 6.30pm. I went to the 6.30 screening and despite a ticket queue that stretched back almost to George St itself I ended up having the cinema all to myself. The ticket seller even asked "what's that" when I mentioned the title. I wondered if I hadn't turned up whether Hoyts might have saved projector lamp burning time and just quietly closed the doors. So, what did I see under these perversely exciting conditions? Hollywood heavyweights Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman embarrassing themselves on screen as actors and off screen as executive producers of this clunky remake of Claude Miller's 1981 gem, Garde A Vue, that's what. Freeman, essaying the cop role played by Lino Ventura in Miller's film brings momentary dignity to proceedings but when he's forced to say "f*** you" to Hackman something dies a terrible death before your very eyes. It's not right for Morgan Freeman to say things like that on screen. It was like watching Santa Claus shoplift. Freeman's problems are nothing compared to Hackman who starts the film with the worst toupee you've ever seen. It's a portent for the performance he's about to unleash. He's woeful in a role which requires delicate manouverings to keep us guessing and the pendulum of belief/disbelief swinging. He blusters and babbles horrendously in what's undoubtedly the low point of his career. Worse still is Thomas Jane as Owens, Freeman's hard-ass sidekick who wants "to drop the hammer on this guy" from the moment he's on-screen and then becomes even less subtle. The list goes on...and so does the movie for 110 stupefying minutes with no real suspense, no mystery other than why these American cops are working in Puerto Rico in the first place and finally, no reason to exist. In one scene Freeman tells his drop-kick side –kick, "they say no amount of learning can cure stupidity". Precisely. "
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

UNDER SUSPICION (M)
(US)

CAST: Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Thomas Jane, Monica Belucci

DIRECTOR: Stephen Hopkins

PRODUCER: Stephen Hopkins, Anne Marie Gillen, Lori McCready

SCRIPT: John Wainwright (book), Claude Miller

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Levy

EDITOR: John Smith

MUSIC: BT

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cecilia Montiel

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 24, 2000







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