Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 1993. Kino Korsakoff. Screenplay by Scott McGehee, David Siegel. Cinematography by Greg Gardiner. Produced by Scott McGehee, David Siegel. Music by Cary Berger. Production Design by Kelly McGehee. Costume Design by Mette Hansen. Film Editing by Lauren Zuckerman.
Scott McGehee and David Siegel, who later had their breakout with their remake of Max Ophuls’ The Reckless Moment, The Deep End, make their debut with a film that also has taken notable inspiration from the genre of film noir. Dennis Haysbert visits Los Angeles to spend time with his half-brother Michael Harris not long after their father’s funeral, their purpose to get to know each other after having just met at the funeral. They remark on their striking resemblance (the adorable irony being that, in this starkly shot black and white film, that they are played by a black and a white actor), which comes in handy for Harris when he attempts to murder Haysbert after switching their identity papers. Haysbert manages to survive the incident and wakes up in the hospital with amnesia, doing his best to piece his memory back together but hampered by the fact that the doctors helping him (Sab Shimono and Mel Harris) are feeding him clues from someone else’s life. Making things more complicated is the police officer who is hanging around his hospital bed trying to solve the murder of his father. Themes of identity and memory are investigated intelligently in a film that is shot and edited with skilled precision, but the experience exists solely on an intellectual level and feels like it is all sharp corners. Haysbert can never help but bring warmth to any character he plays, but his relationship with his romantic interest never develops to the point of being deeply felt, and the film feels more like a cold, overlong student short film than the exciting tribute to the genre that it’s likely meant to be. Dina Merrill appears in a supporting role.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1993