Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen in A Perfect Murder

A Perfect Murder

 

 

 

 

Andrew Davis has made something of a specialty of directing thrillers. He made Steven Seagal’s best film, Under Siege, and Chuck Norris’s best film too, Code of Silence. He’s also responsible for the breathless chase of The Fugitive and for this remake of Frederick Knott’s play Dial M for Murder, on which Hitchcock based his 1954 movie. The “perfect murder”, beloved of films of a certain vintage, now seems almost as dated a concept as that of the criminal mind. However Davis and adapter Patrick Smith Kelly squeeze a little more mileage out of it by playing up what you might call the Gordon Gecko aspects – cash and deceit. Which brings us to the cast – Michael Douglas plays the powerful husband of an heiress wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) who discovers she’s been having an affair with a fairly broke artist (Viggo Mortensen). What then follows includes a little bit of a murder and an awful lot of chicanery. We’re in the world of the fork-tongued dialogue, something Douglas is a proven talent at, and both Paltrow (here auditioning for the Grace Kelly memorial ice queen show) and Mortensen show they’re not bad at either. There’s no point pretending this isn’t a hugely stagy film. But it doesn’t seem to bother Davis, who realises that the “action” in this film comes entirely from the verbal jousting. The ending – it’s a bit thin – but by then the enjoyment has been had.

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

A Perfect Murder – at Amazon

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “A Perfect Murder”

  1. I went into A Perfect Murder expecting to enjoy it, but I recognised the fact that I wouldn’t be in for a great film. To be honest, I love thrillers like this as they offer a solid two hours (or so) of non-too taxing entertainment, and what’s not to like about that? A Perfect Murder is an update of the Hitchcock classic ‘Dial M For Murder’, and while the film doesn’t touch Hitchcock’s in terms of how thrilling it is, this update has been well handled and despite losing things such as the claustrophobia and the tight plot, A Perfect Murder still does what you’d expect it to do. The plot has become more expansive for this update, but the filmmakers have still managed to keep it tight so that the plot is focused mainly on the characters as opposed to the actual crime. The plot follows a rich man (Michael Douglas) who discovers that his trophy wife (Gweneth Paltrow) is having an affair with an artist (Viggo Mortensen). When his business affairs start to go awry, he decides to commit the perfect murder so that he can inherit his wife’s trust fund. However, as all of us Hitchcock fans know; there’s no such thing as the perfect murder.

    Michael Douglas was the absolute perfect choice for this role. He may get typecast as the slimy businessman often, but he does it so well! You can really believe that he wants to kill his wife. Gweneth Paltrow, who is often solid but never outstanding; and Viggo Mortensen, who is actually a good actor, join him and make up the three-piece central cast. Mortensen’s performance here isn’t awesome; but it’s good, and hints at the sort of stuff that would be to come – such as a great turn in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. Like most nineties thrillers, this one is very stylishly shot and there’s a focus on the more steamy elements of the story. The locations used aptly convey the groups within society that the characters belong to and the film does a good job of setting its scenes. The central set piece is well executed, and the build up to it is well done also; but it has to be said that the film starts to fall apart a little after that. Still, A Perfect Murder never becomes boring and even during it’s down time; the film still manages to be thrilling. As mentioned, this isn’t as great as Hitchcock’s version – but as modern remakes go – this certainly isn’t a bad one, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

  2. Micheal Douglas (Steven) and Gwenyth Paltrow (Emily) are a married couple. Emily falls in love and has an affair with a young painter, David Shaw (Mortensen). Hiding the affair and making a tense move, Emily is put in the position to tell Steven or not. One way or another Steven has a plan, a plan to murder his own wife….with a little help from the someone else.

    I really love this movie. I try to watch it as much as possible. In this movie it is set to the level of Micheal Douglas’s creepy and insanity side of his acting. He scared me so much that I didn’t feel comfortable about seeing this for the first time. Gwenyth Paltrow on the other hand, plays a very innocent and lovely role. She really doesn’t have a clue what Steven and David are up to in this twisting thriller. Viggo is absolutely excellent in this movie. He gave an outstanding role and put another character on my favorite list. This is a very good movie and I recommend this movie to Alfred Hitchcock and mystery/murder fans. I would rate this 10/10

  3. I actually liked this movie, but the ending was bad.

    Summary: Steven Taylor and Emily have been married for quite some time yet Emily feels trapped and controlled by Steven so she seeks comfort in the arms of David, a broke artist with a hidden past. Steven knows about the affair yet Emily has no idea that he knows. Steven approaches David and lets him know that he knows everything about David’s past and then blackmails him. He pays 100 grand and tells David he will pay another 400 grand after the job is done. What job? Oh, for killing Emily, his wife. David accepts and Steven tells him how to murder Emily and it sounds flawless until Emily manages to kill the intruder in her home and at Steven’s surprise, it’s not David!

    In such cases as these where rich people get married, I understand why there should be a pre-nuptial agreement! The movie is a great thriller yet it lacks….something. Viggo Mortensen was David, the lover who does love Emily but loves money more. Michael Douglas, the loving yet control freak husband Steven, whose empire is falling apart and the only option he has is to kill his wife played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who works for the UN, speaks a few languages but is dumb as a doorbell when it comes to the men in her life.

    I rate this 7/10, the movie has lots of great twists and so on, but I saw only Michael Douglas making a real effort in this movie. Viggo was great too, but Gwyneth seems so confused through out this movie.

  4. A Perfect Murder is a lot better than I thought it would be, probably because of the smart direction from director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Chain Reaction, Under Siege). Given a fairly involved script and an action film, (never mind the dialogue, just cut quickly to the next scene) shooting scheme, Davis has concocted a mainstream thriller that works quite well. A Perfect Murder is based on a middle rated Hitchcock film which was in turn based on a hit Broadway play called Dial M For Murder. Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas, in part revisiting Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko) is in financial strife and decides to knock Emily his wife off to grab her money. She’s played by the hapless Gwyneth Paltrow. Hubby blackmails his wife’s lover (Viggo Mortensen) to do the dirty deed. This film is ferociously mainstream. The music chimes in just so. The bathrobe disappears just so. Michael Douglas plays Michael Douglas to perfection, Paltrow is protected from any line more than fifteen words long, but still A Perfect Murder is never boring. The original Hitchcock version starred Ray Miland and Grace Kelly. There weren’t any mobile phones and the wife wasn’t screwing the killer. And then there was Grace Kelly rather than Gwyneth Paltrow in that old film. I know who I’d prefer.

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