A Kind of Murder
starring Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Vincent Kartheiser, Haley Bennett and Eddie Marsan
written by Susan Boyd
directed by Andy Goddard
The DVD rental case in Japan called this movie “Like a Killer.” Then when I played it on my computer I saw the title “A Kind of Murder.” I don’t know why it has two titles. Sometimes Japanese change a title for the Japanese market, but they change it in a way that makes sense. “Like a Killer” does not sound like a Japanese way of conceptualizing the film. I don’t like it when a film has more than one title. It feels like incompetence somewhere in the producer’s office.
Walter Stackhouse is an architect by day, and a novelist by night, unhappily married to Clara, he begins to imagine what it might be like to murder his wife. He becomes fascinated by a real murder story currently under investigation and in the media. A bookshop owner named Kimell is suspected of murdering his wife at a bus rest stop on the highway and then carefully inventing an alibi. After Stackhouse’s wife is found dead at the same highway rest area where Kimell, in truth, did kill his wife, Stackhouse practically convicts himself in the eyes of the investigating detective because of his amateurish blundering, his naiveté, his lack of attention, his inability to keep his mouth shut, and his totally, inexplicable failure to anticipate how his behavior might be interpreted. The moron! He’s a model for self-incrimination.
The best things about this movie is its reproduction of 1950s architecture, automobiles, fashion and mannerisms. It was incredible! Another thing was is classic film noire feel. I thought the story could work just as well as a radio play.
Clara’s death at the highway rest stop is left unresolved. It felt like she was being abandoned by the director in favor of her husband’s and Mr. Kimell’s stories. It could have been a suicide (she tries to kill herself once in the movie, so it’s not implausible), or it could really have been a genuine murder. Either way, we never find out.