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Overall Rating
2.57

Awesome: 13.33%
Worth A Look: 13.33%
Average: 10%
Pretty Bad43.33%
Total Crap: 20%

4 reviews, 36 user ratings


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Perfect Murder, A
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Or, 'Redial M for Murder'; screen this call."
2 stars

'A Perfect Murder,' the remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Dial M for Murder,' is twisty and preposterous and boring; the last adjective seals its doom, for if it were twisty and preposterous and entertaining, it would be, well, a Hitchcock film. Or even vintage De Palma.

As it is, the film plays like something you'd watch half-attentively on the USA network -- a rickety plot machine that delivers the twists on schedule, with teasing little bits of sleaze and gore. But not nearly enough sleaze and gore -- the movie is tasteful, for God's sake, as if this were a serious endeavor instead of a pale, pulpy thriller.

Michael Douglas, by now a specialist in wealthy, implosive white guys who are rotting from the inside out, is some sort of tycoon -- it hardly matters what exactly he does -- who doesn't trust his young wife (Gwyneth Paltrow). When Douglas sees Paltrow cozying up to a lank-haired hipster artist (Viggo Mortensen, looking like an unholy cross between Kurt Cobain and Harlan Ellison) at a cocktail party, he goes right up to Viggo and takes an interest in his paintings. Of course he suspects that Viggo and Gwyneth are doing more than discussing art, and of course he's right, and of course he wants her dead. But instead of hiring someone else to snuff her, Douglas wants Viggo to do it. Huh?

Hitchcock could put this over -- he could put pretty much anything over -- but Andrew Davis, whose strengths lie in clean, economical action (Under Siege, The Fugitive), isn't enough of a brilliant liar to help us suspend our disbelief. And his usual solid craftsmanship apparently wasn't available to him here. Aesthetically, A Perfect Murder tries for an air of sleek malice, but it just looks and feels rancid. The cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski (who also shot -- badly -- The Crow and Dark City), may be the worst director of photography now working. (He ranks down there with Victor Kemper, one of Pauline Kael's favorite punching bags in the '70s.) There's a scene between Gwyneth Paltrow and the Indian actress Sarita Choudhury (Mississippi Masala) -- two of the great beauties of modern film -- and Wolski's lighting destroys them. I have to hand it to the guy; I didn't know it was possible to make these women (especially Choudhury) look sickly and unattractive.

The movie falls into the predictable pattern of who's-plotting-against-who, with everyone's motivations reduced to cardboard. There's some nasty business involving a meat thermometer, and Davis blows a great chance for sick horror-comedy -- De Palma would've had the wit to show the thing taking the temperature of its victim. David Suchet plays a detective of Middle Eastern descent, a touch that seems included just so that Gwyneth can talk to him in his native language; she also speaks fluent Spanish, and I vaguely recall now that she's supposed to be an interpreter for the United Nations -- but why? It doesn't figure in the plot, which in any case defines her entirely as a two-dimensional slut.

Just when the movie is winding down, Constance Towers shows up as Gwyneth's mother, which amused me on many levels. Towers, a semi-regular on General Hospital recently, is best known among film geeks for her work in Samuel Fuller's classics Shock Corridor and especially The Naked Kiss, where she was first seen as a bald-headed hooker beating the hell out of a john. I couldn't decide whether to imagine what A Perfect Murder would've been like in Sam Fuller's hands (ridiculous and crude and wonderful), or to consider that Towers isn't much older than her son-in-law Michael Douglas.

All of this ping-ponged through my mind during the last half hour, when I was supposed to be engrossed by the routine thrills and twists. I suggest you, too, find something amusing to think about while watching 'A Perfect Murder.' Or better yet, find another movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=25&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/15/07 05:16:59
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User Comments

11/12/08 PAUL SHORTT SIMPERS ALONG WITH RELATIVELY LITTLE SUSPENSE OR THRILLS 1 stars
1/15/07 Gloria Dornin Well, I will never trust what I think is true in relationship 5 stars
5/22/06 Jack Sommersby Stylish and suspenseful, with Douglas simply magnificent. 4 stars
5/28/05 Indrid Cold Well made, but just too cliche to be interesting. 3 stars
1/18/05 tatum Slick entertainment 4 stars
8/11/04 engel y. sarvida its incomparable! 4 stars
3/31/04 ray The reviewers who gave this bad marks are plainly jaded fools who can't spot clever dialog! 5 stars
1/27/04 Priscilla Postlethwaite Creepily effective with Gwyneth Paltrow better than usual 5 stars
9/29/03 Monster W. Kung "Let's do Hitchcock as a 3rd rate direct-to-video thriller!" Horrid, despicable crap. 1 stars
7/25/03 Shadaan Feleli Remake a Hitchcock Masterpiece ... WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY???? !!!!!! 2 stars
5/23/03 mr. Pink A pointless remake of Dial M for Murder. Everyone is at their worst in this dull movie 1 stars
4/19/03 Jin Lame with dull characters. 1 stars
4/15/03 Jack Bourbon Gwyneth's acting as bad as Viggo's painting. Scrub brush? Curious George method pilfered? 2 stars
1/01/03 KMG OF COURSE A GIRL WOULD LEAVE DOUGLAS' OLD KIWIS FOR VIGGO'S MANHOOD! 3 stars
1/01/03 Jack Sommersby A tense, stylish thriller. Douglas and Mortensen are outstanding! 4 stars
10/30/02 Patrick this has a good ending. 5 stars
10/12/02 Elizaveta Well...you could tell Douglas was nuts from the beginning. And what was with the Hebrew?! 3 stars
5/17/02 Priscilla Postelthwaite Creepily effective with Gwyneth Paltrow better than usual 5 stars
1/24/02 R.W. Welch Those who think they can improve on Hitchcock are living in a dream. 3 stars
8/10/01 E-Funk Thrilling remake of Hitchcock. Douglas is as evil as ever! 5 stars
8/05/01 Randy G Not good slow, sloppy and wasted characters. Mike D is showing his age. He will be much bet 2 stars
4/24/01 analucia all in all not a bad movie, good examples of different forms of deceit, not predictable 4 stars
2/11/01 Leather jacket Don't get any ideas...you're suppose to love your wife! 5 stars
6/26/00 stranded on the Island thoroughly enjoyable thriller, for Gwyneth P. fans a must--she is beautiful in this one! 5 stars
2/17/00 Bozo i loathe and despise the overrated paltrow and she is horrible in this as well 2 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski Deliver me from Gwyneth Paltrow's perpetual I'm-in-pain expression. 3 stars
1/04/00 Nice Guy Eddie Gwyneth was great; this flick was better than most thrillers being put out now. Bad ending. 4 stars
8/14/99 Marshy No more Hitchcock remakes! This bites. 2 stars
1/14/99 Em Heard Gwyn dumped Ben for Viggo Mortensen. Hope she wasn't attracted to his acting ability 1 stars
12/11/98 Brent Suprised to see all the bad reviews here - I rather enjoyed it. 4 stars
10/14/98 Chi-Fan Hu Stupid Plot and a stupid movie 2 stars
9/12/98 Bart Barton Douglas is too old for this part 1 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball I actually enjoyed this, though Douglas grated on my nerves. 4 stars
8/23/98 Mister Whoopee My popcorn was more interesting. 2 stars
8/16/98 Johny Fine enough to sit through 3 stars
8/13/98 {{OZ}} Bah. Gwyneth and Michael? Yeah right. Lame. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Jun-1998 (R)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Oct-1998 (M)




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