Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1998. Warner Bros., Kopelson Entertainment. Screenplay by Patrick Smith Kelly, based on the play Dial M For Murder by Frederick Knott. Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski. Produced by Anne Kopelson, Arnold Kopelson, Christopher Mankiewicz, Peter Macgregor-Scott. Music by James Newton Howard. Production Design by Philip Rosenberg. Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick. Film Editing by Dov Hoenig, Dennis Virkler.
Some of the dialogue and situations in this remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder are so sluggish, the actors often look as if they’re swimming through glue. Michael Douglas is the evil banking tycoon husband and Gwyneth Paltrow the gorgeous young wife who works as a translator for the UN and has a hairstyle that is never less than totally perfect. Her only flaw….she’s an adultress! Douglas is really the bad person here, though, cause he’s just hired Gwyneth’s boyfriend Viggo Mortensen to kill her–it seems he needs the money from her life insurance. Not too much unlike Ray Milland’s portrayal in the earlier version, Douglas slithers his way through every scene so precisely, so carefully checking the corners of every room with snakelike eyes that I think I would notice he was a murderer just by walking past him on the sidewalk. Mortensen mumbles too much to be effective (you might want to turn the volume up when his scenes come around) and the production designer’s vision of his artists’ loft apartment tries so hard to be “arty” that even the paint-splattered telephone seems like it wants to scream out “Hey, look at me! I’m in character!” Paltrow does a good enough job but this role pales in comparison to the far superior work she did the same year in Shakespeare In Love and Sliding Doors (the scene where she breaks down in tears at her mother’s dinner table is actually funnier than it should be). The film is, to say the least, cheesy, but it’s really a lot of fun to watch, especially since director Andrew Davis has a good time making it stylish. Features a small but great performance by the beautiful Sarita Choudhury.