Time: 116 mins.
SYNOPSIS: An aging playwright in desperate need of a hit invites an old student of his, with a first-rate play, up to his cabin as a ploy to get his hands on his protegé's material. The meeting does not goes as planned, forcing both men to fight for their lives as they battle for future fame and glory.
BOTTOM LINE: Caine and Reeve ham it up as dueling writers willing to do anything to come up with a successful play. This complex thriller has more twists and turns than a French country road, making it both exhilarating and nauseating. Most of the action takes place in the Long Island home of the accomplished, yet declining Sidney Bruhl (Caine), a devise that enables Lumet to keep the focus of the film exactly where it should be...on the characters. The plot kicks off when Sidney teases his ailing wife Myra (Cannon) about killing one of his writing students in order to steal his brilliant script and rejuvenating his career.
When Clifford (Reeve) actually shows up, things quickly get out of hand, forcing the three of them down a path of murder, mayhem and betrayal that's often hard to keep up with. Though the plot careens out of control towards the end, Caine and Reeve are so clearly enjoying playing these ambitiously demented characters, that you willingly go along for the ride. A dizzying array of double crosses, leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering whether the experience of the pro or the desire of the amateur will win out. The final stormy sequence is over the top and thoroughly unbelievable, but there really is no other choice. All in all, a witty, flamboyant, smart thriller with a few good scares, buoyed by two wicked performances.