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Alice Loudon (Heather Graham) is happily settled in her relationship with her boyfriend Jake (Jason Hughes), until one day she meets a well known and respected mountaineer Adam Tallis (Joseph Fiennes) at the traffic lights. Their hands touch and their eyes meet… a passionate affair ensues. Adam’s sister Deborah (Natascha McElhone) tells Alice about the climbing accident in which Adam's girlfriend died. Alice moves in with Adam but discovers that he wants to own and control her every move. In the meantime, she starts to receive anonymous letters warning her about Adam. She then discovers love letters from a former lover, who has since disappeared and she begins to suspect Adam of murder…

Review by Louise Keller:
The sex scenes are hot and the chemistry between Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham is scorching. An erotic, psychological thriller, Killing Me Softly is a B film with an A cast. Fiennes and Graham light up the screen, but are dragged down with a script that is wildly ridiculous. Heavy handed direction and dramatic music jar; what could have been a gripping thriller resorts to blatant melodrama. 

Based on a novel by husband and wife journalists Sean French and Nicci Gerrard under the pen name of Nicci French, while the story relies on some incredible elements, the book could well be a riveting page turner. The premise that Alice and Adam's relationship is based on sexual desire and obsession is an interesting one, but becomes blatantly far-fetched. Take the scene when Adam dumps Alice on the rustic kitchen table and binds her wrists and ankles with rope. Alice is supposedly terrified, but doesn't even struggle, or try to wriggle out of her restraints. Instead she sheepishly says: 'I have to pee' and subsequently tries to escape through the bathroom window. Adam's line 'I could break your neck, I love you so much' is even worse. Both the script and the structure are badly flawed, but somehow the cast still shines. Fiennes is especially effective as the darkly brooding, very handsome, unpredictable and obsessive husband, and it's credit to him, Graham and Natascha McElhone (as the devoted sister), that so much credibility is brought to their characters. Visually, there is much on offer. What a good-looking threesome they are, the three leads, besides there's Graham's spiffy wardrobe by Gemma Jackson and those gorgeous wintry settings. 

It is no doubt that the film will find its main audience on DVD, and although the special features are not extensive, they give a good insight into the making of the film and philosophies of the actors and director. Director Kaige Chen explains that he is trying to tell a wonderful story about human beings. ‘In China I haven’t been allowed to portray sex as I wanted to,’ he says, ‘I hope the audience will relate the story and the characters.’ The behind-the-scenes feature shows Chen working with the actors. It’s fly-on-the-wall material and Heather Graham is full of praise for the director. As for coping with the intimate sex scenes? Graham reveals how she and Fiennes coped with these with a good dose of humour.

Published August 7, 2003

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CAST: Heather Graham, Joseph Fiennes, Natascha McElhone, Ian Hurt

DIRECTOR: Kaige Chen

SCRIPT: Kara Lindstrom, Sean French (novel),

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16 : 9 widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurette; interviews; behind the scenes;


DVD RELEASE: (retail) June 11, 2003

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