Masquerade (1988)

BOB SWAIM

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

USA, 1988. , . Screenplay by . Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Cashing in on the popularity of steamy erotic thrillers that lived in the shadow of Body Heat, this retread of Hitchcock’s Suspicion has actors perfectly cast in tailor-made roles and features some luscious nudity, but neither element can lift the, no pun intended, limp plot (written by future Law & Order mastermind Dick Wolf) off the ground.

is at his dewiest as a sailing instructor surrounded by wealth and privilege in a ritzy Hamptons community, killing his free time by secretly having an affair with his older boss’s trophy wife ().  arrives home after losing her mother and is the heiress to a two hundred million dollar fortune, but the provisions of her mother’s will give her skeezy husband and Tilly’s stepfather access to all of her homes and a generous allowance. She is tangled up in trying to cut him out of her life when she meets Lowe and a romance instantly sparks up, the two of them falling deeply in love despite their vast class difference, which inspires ridicule and anger in Glover and suspicion in everyone else.

At this point, story details begin to twist in new directions involving secret alliances and murderous schemes, all of which Tilly remains blissfully unaware of while believing that the new man in her life is the answer to her salvation. There’s a few plot holes (you have this major plan involving hundreds of millions of dollars and you meet with your co-conspirator at a popular diner in the same town?) and the details of the lifestyles of the rich and famous don’t exactly ring true, Tilly in particular is designed to be a relatable middle-class girl in a princess world (which would only make sense if she hadn’t been raised in the wealth that she has now inherited). These can be forgiven by the great chemistry she shares with Lowe and the overall physical appeal of the actors and settings, but the weak ending, in which everything that has been built up so carefully is easily unraveled too quickly, relegates what could have been a juicy thriller down to a racy television movie.

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