MALICE (1993) 

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Bill Pullman
Nicole Kidman
Alec Baldwin
Bebe Neuwirth
George C. Scott
Anne Bancroft
Peter Gallagher
Josef Sommer
Tobin Bell
Gwyneth Paltrow

Harold Becker



Time: 107 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Suspense/Thriller

SYNOPSIS: A seemingly happily married couple gets their future pulled out from under them when the wife is forced to undergo emergency surgery, which doesn't end well. Her doctor claims he did the best he could, but it's clear he's hiding something and the husband refuses to stop digging until he uncovers the truth.

BOTTOM LINE: Becker yields a mass of ill-will with his mishmash of thrills, lies, betrayal and murder. A favorite of mine until a recent re-watching left me empty and annoyed. A stellar cast chewing on meaty roles is unable to clear up the muddle of a plot and murky misdirection. The one thing that is obvious is Becker's desperate need to seem clever, to constantly keep the audience guessing what's really important from one moment to the next. It's a ploy that works to his advantage the first time around, making the inner workings of the story beyond surprising. However, once the twists and revelations are known, the film becomes a one trick pony all about plot points and lacking true depth of character.

Kidman acquits herself quite well in her first major American role out from under the shadow of then husband Tom Cruise. Her character is the one that delivers the most depth and she proves she's more than just a pretty face. Pullman shows a darker side to his personality that he rarely gets a chance to use, cast as the eternal nice guy. Baldwin is luscious, arrogant and evil as the super surgeon who turns their happily married existence upside down. Bancroft makes her presence known in a wickedly amusing cameo. Blink and you'll miss Paltrow as a delinquent college coed who comes to a bad end in a subplot that merely just filler to draw the audience away from what's really happening between the three leads. It's rare to come upon such an adult-themed film with real bite and suspense, so I give Becker kudos for trying to do something different. I just wish the end result was worth all the trouble. If you like the leads, this is not a terrible way to spend a few hours.

"Bad things happen to good people all the time, Andy, for no reason what-so-ever..."

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