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I have always loved films with themes like this. A Perfect Murder is a crime thriller about sex, money, and deception. There’s a mix of factors that work together to make this film work. The cast is a huge reason for this being a success, every cast member is a talented professional who knows what they’re doing and they all bring their “A” game here. The script being both exciting and fast paced is another winning factor. To be clear, this film wasn’t attempting to be an Oscar contender. This film, in my view, is what it wished to be and that is an exciting popcorn crime thriller.
This is one of my favorite Gwyneth Paltrow performances. Paltrow plays this role with an ease and she’s delightful to watch. She comes across as both extremely likable and smart. She isn’t a dumb blonde damsel in distress, she’s a capable woman who finds herself in a world of danger and must find a way out. I really liked how they handled her character.
Michael Douglas plays her older husband who wishes to have her killed. Douglas has a gift for playing an evil villain and he does that very well here. He and Paltrow work well together in this cat and mouse game.
Viggo Mortensen plays Paltrow’s artist lover who gets tangled up in their marriage in more ways than one. Mortensen does a fine job playing the understated sly ladies man that his character is, he’s good at that type of role. He and Paltrow also have nice chemistry between one another and it’s a very different chemistry than her and Douglas. The sexual relationship between Paltrow and Mortensen is portrayed in a way that fits the overall film.
They don’t have a lot of sex just for sex sake but they do feature a few beautifully directed love scenes between them that work. A Perfect Murder actually opens with a sequence of them in bed together during the opening credits. It was smart to open the film with this and I really loved the style in which it was done.
Camerawork and fine tuned direction is ever important and the variety of shots they used for this opening really added a lot. The style of this first scene sets a tone that’s sultry and deceptive, which are two fitting descriptors for A Perfect Murder as a whole. Details like that really matter and I love it when filmmakers prioritize style.
Speaking of style, the costume and set design are both very striking. Paltrow and Douglas’s characters are by no means hurting for money so both their clothing and their luxurious New York City penthouse are to die for.
Paltrow’s clothes actually aren’t super dated in this. The majority of what she wears would still be considered stylish today. She wears some beautiful well picked dresses. Their penthouse is so gorgeous too. The interior design is immaculate and that setting adds a lot to the overall feel.
The script, while not fantastic, is pretty entertaining and has enough turns in it to keep audiences engaged. It’s interesting to learn more about each of us these three different characters and uncover some interesting motives and backstory. I liked that the writers included some interesting revelations about both Douglas and Mortensen. Yes, we know from the get go that Douglas is a bad guy but his motive may not be what you think it is.
There’s a nice brisk pace that’s maintained throughout too. There aren’t any boring stretches where you’re checking the time to see how much is left. The ending is very thrilling and intense. The lead up to this last sequence is quiet and fairly understated which makes the final crescendo all the more satisfying. I won’t say what happens in the end but let’s just say this ending further proves that Paltrow’s character is more than capable of handling herself.
A Perfect Murder is an entertaining thriller that touts a fine cast and a script that will keep you engaged. If you’ve never seen this, give it a watch!
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