A Perfect Murder
starring Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen
screenplay by Patrick Smith Kelly
directed by Andrew Davis
I do not like Michael Douglas movies. But I think he is a very great acor. I don’t like his films because he alwayus play uncomfortaablyevil, sinsite sorts of character. Or seems to, anyway. And he plays them disturbingly well.
I used to watch Michael Douglas on television in the 1970s when he partnered withKarl Malden on the afternoon police drama The Streets of San Francisco. I was confused between Michael Douglas and the 1970s late-afternoon talk show host Mike Douglas, a different man entirely. But I didn’t know that at the time. The Mike Douglas Show was always on TV soon after The Streets of San Francisco and I kept thinking, “Michael Douglas, Mike Douglas? Why does he look so different form the other show?”
Of course, now I know that the two are different men. Incidentally, as he gets older Michael Douglas looks more and more like his father, Kirk Douglas.
Anyway,A Perfect Murder is an exciting murder story that keeps your attention. Co-star Gwyneth Paltrow, who is very talented and lovely, is much in demand now after her recent success in the Academy Award-winning Shakespeare in Love.
The premise of the film is an old one: cuckolded husband discovers that his younger, beautiful wife is having an affair and takes retribution. However, in this case instead of murdering his wife’s boyfriend (which he eventually does anyway), Steven Taylor (Douglas) decides to have his wife, Emily (Paltrow) murdered.
There are a number of exciting, psychological twists. First of all, Steven hires his wife’s lover to do the killing. He can do this by blackmailing the man with his secret, criminal past. Second, the attack on Emily fails terribly, leaving her attacker dead instead of her. But when police remove his concealing mask, it is a different man entirely, not the man Steven hired to do the job. Third, the lover, played by Viggo Mortensen, secretly tape recorded Steven contracting him for a murder - a crime in itself - and then has grounds for blackmailing Steven in reverse, which he does. Fourth, the real motive for Steven’s wish to murder his wife is not jealousy at all. It has to do with the fact that his business is bout to be ruined because of illegal stock market dealings. Emily is a rich heiress sand when she married Steven they made no pre-nuptial agreement about the disposition of their separate prosperities in the event of divorce or death. So if Emily dies, Steven gets her hundred million dollar inheritance, thus saving his business from ruin.
It is a good film well worth watching. If you are a Michael Douglas fan you might even enjoy it.