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A Perfect Murder Internet Movie Database Logo

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Director: Andrew Davis
Cast:
Michael Douglas
Gwyneth Paltrow
Viggo Mortensen

I read a lot of "advance reviews" of this thing, you know, the people who mysteriously get to see a movie three weeks before the rest of the hoi polloi, and almost all of them take a swipe at Hitchcock. Hitchcock, y'see, directed "Dial M For Murder," the movie on which "A Perfect Murder" was based, and these movie pundits delight in calling "Dial M" things like "Hitchcock's clunkiest thriller" and "most wooden plot." Let me assure the audience out there that the worst Hitchcock movie is better than anything in current release, and "Dial M For Murder" is actually pretty cool. The worst Hitchcock movie, in my opinion, is "Marnie," but it doesn't matter. Hitchcock is like Freud; brilliant, groundbreaking, and totally misunderstood by today's revisionist historians. Likewise, "A Perfect Murder" will probably be a little misunderstood. Just about the most mean-spirited marital flick since "War of the Roses," it stars Michael Douglas as a rich old power broker who runs into millions of dollars of trouble at work and needs his wife to die in order to set his finances straight. His wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, happens to be in love with faux sensitive artist Viggo Mortensen—Douglas finds out, and makes a deal that Viggo can't refuse. Kill my wife, he says, and I won't reveal who you really are.

I believe they call movies like this "potboilers"—bereft of sensitivity, bursting with deception and about as mean-spirited as they come, this movie isn't about lost love. It's about a husband and wife who hate each other, and about a paramour who intends to bilk an innocent lady out of her millions. Gwyneth is a rambling wreck of a character, so overwrought and gullible that you almost want to see the assassination succeed. Viggo Mortensen sleepwalks through this thing, but Michael Douglas, as always, is the eye candy here. His ability to make the most slithery, awful character someone you want to see "get away with it" is testament to how good he is. Forget that he's been the same cigar-smoking bad guy for a few years now; you get the feeling that in one of these movies, he actually is going to get away with it. With Sarita Choudhury and a wonderful David Suchet as the suspicious detective.

—Ian Williams

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© Copyright 2002 Ian Williams