8 May 2002 | rmax304823
Rather, the spleen of justice
This is a dark and moody movie that has a couple of things going for it and one big weakness. The things going for it include the acting. Everyone is at least pretty good, down to the smallest parts. Dermot Mulroney is often an unbelievable pain in the neck but here, as a murderously paranoid schizophrenic, his wooden wariness and immobile face are convincing. Dennis Hopper, as Truman Capote or Dominick Dunne or somebody, has a relatively small part, but he has become a reliable and always interesting supporting actor, now that he has survived the 1960s. Eric Stoltz looks the part, red haired and pale, and quick in his movements and in this particular role his voice, which is sometimes a hindrance to our suspension of disbelief, hints at an underlying weakness of character that plays to advantage. Brad Dillman, as the head of the terribly rich and rather warped family, is also quite good, almost unrecognizable as the same guy who was a homosexual genius in "Compulsion." Best of all is Jennifer Connelly as the mysterious sister of Mulroney. She always wears black, right down to her skivvies. Okay, she has the voice and intonations of a high school girl -- but what a high school girl! The voice is always semi-breathless and as deliberate and slow as her most molecular movements or her most molar for that matter. It isn't clear from the film that she was sexually involved with her brother but they were surely bonded. What a delight to look at.
Oh -- the big weakness. Alright. As they say, "Even paranoids have enemies." And in this case, Mulroney's beliefs about Dennis Hopper's writing a scandalous number on the family were evidently correct. Hopper was collecting secret information in the form of gossip and so forth. Stoltz is a successful reporter who begins nosing into the case and finding that, yes, maybe Mulroney was right. But where was Hopper getting his dish from? Jennifer Connelly confesses that it was she who was Hopper's informant. She seduces Stoltz and more or less coerces him into destroying all of his evidence about the case. Having succeeded in quashing the story Stoltz was pursuing, she abandons Stoltz.
The holes in the reasoning gape before us. If she wanted the true story quashed, why did she inform on the family in the first place? The question undermines the entire plot. Almost as bad: Stoltz has quit his job at the paper, and the job has been taken over by Macy. In the last scene, she taunts Macy by revealing her half-naked body to him from a soft-pornly curtained window, and Macy moves toward the building with an expression of what is presumably supposed to be deep desire. Da spider iss spinnink her wep fawh anodder unvary fly! But -- WHY? The scandalous story is now kaput. She should have no interest in Stoltz's replacement at the paper, nor he in her -- he knows practically nothing about Stoltz' work.
The performances and the moody atmosphere are enough to carry this film over the abbysal gaps in the plot, but they provide pretty shaky support.