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WHAT LIES BENEATH

SYNOPSIS:
Happily married – for the second time - Dr Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) is on the brink of a professional triumph as he and his wife Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) finish redecorating the marvellous old Vermont lakeside Spencer home. When Claire begins to hear and see strange things in and around the house, Norman puts it down to the long lasting effects, perhaps, of her car accident a year earlier. But the ghostly visitations grow and Claire slowly begins to piece together a terrifying secret – much worse than Norman’s brief, adulterous fling with a young student. And when Norman finds out that his wife is putting two and two together, he makes a decision with tragic consequences.

"The above synopsis is intentionally sparse on detail, since this is a thriller whose impact relies a great deal on revelations and unexpected story twists. (We hope you don’t go and read any reviews that blurt out the whole damn thing to you!) And indeed, Robert Zemeckis and team crafts a movie full of the elements of a serious thriller, a feast of suspense, it’s creepiness creeping up on you frame by frame – right until the final third. Here, just about when you think this is going to be a masterpiece of a film, the script runs out of ideas and reverts to hack-me-down cliches. It is then that we realise how the red herrings were handled with a heavier hand than the maestro Hitchcock might have used… For me, this all a tragic disappointment because until then, it really has everything going for it. I would still recommend it for its strengths, though: Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer give us nuanced and fascinating portraits of two slightly unusual characters (for the genre). The supporting cast – including Miranda Otto in a minor but vital role – are terrific, full of individuality. Production design is sensational and the eerie first half only seems drawn out when the payoff isn’t up to its original promise."
Andrew L. Urban

 "It's one hour after seeing What Lies Beneath, and my heart is still beating fast. Robert Zemeckis has created a gripping and thrilling drama tinged with the supernatural that leaves behind a mood as precarious as balancing on the edge of a precipice. It's edgy, unsettling, moody and at times terrifying, with twists and turns leading us into unexpected territory. The mood is as powerful as its two magnificent stars, Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford (a compelling coupling) who both deliver on every level. But it is Pfeiffer's film, and carrying her beauty like an encasing of vulnerability, she is haunting as Claire, whose equilibrium and sanity is stirred from the overwhelming obsession. Ford's strong persona is always apparent, and not since Mosquito Coast have we seen his darker textures at work. An opening door, a face under the ripples, a discarded shoe, unexplained happenings; the power of suggestion allows the mind to create shadows far more powerful than any images on screen. This Hitchcockian tension and edginess grip throughout the first half, but as the climax draws near, this refined approach subsides into an abyss of predictability and melodrama. Much of the early tension is created by silences punctuated by sounds, chords and a minimalist approach. This is totally contrasted by the pounding, searing score towards the end, which takes us on another journey – one that could well be called overkill. But despite these contrasts of style, What Lies Beneath always retains its tension, interest and credibility. The watery influences of In Dreams cast ripples of recognition, and while Clark Gregg's script excels in the character development, especially in the establishment of an early intriguing subplot, it could easily be tightened. Engrossing and chilling, What Lies Beneath is an engrossing and unsettling experience whose suggestion that the past may come back to haunt us is a chilling one. But be warned, don't see this alone – you may find yourself clutching the stranger next to you."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

TRAILER

See Jenny Cooney Carillo's interview with

HARRISON FORD

and


MICHELLE PFEIFFER

WHAT LIES BENEATH (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Katharine Towne, Miranda Otto, James Remar, Victoria Bidewell, Diana Scarwid, Amber Valletta, Wendy Crewson

DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis

PRODUCER: Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke

SCRIPT: Clark Gregg

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Burgess, A.S.C.

EDITOR: Arthur Schmidt

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Carter & Jim Teegarden

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 2, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: April 4, 2001







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