31 March 2007 | blanche-2
Liam Neeson is "Under Suspicion" for murdering his wife and a client in this 1991 little known film also starring Laura San Giacomo. This is one of those films one rents and all too rarely realizes that they have found an unsung treasure.
Set in England in 1959-60, Neeson plays an police officer, Tony Aaron. While on assignment with his partner Frank guarding the home of a wealthy man who is out of town, Tony takes time out to have a dalliance with the owner's wife. In the fray that erupts when he's nearly caught by her husband, another officer is killed. Tony is pressured to resign and when he leaves, he only has one friend left - his partner Frank. Tony becomes a low-life private detective who helps clients fake adultery in order to have grounds for divorce. To do this, Tony uses his own wife, Hazel, the woman of the above dalliance, as the "other woman." One night, he does the usual thing of entering the hotel room with a camera and surprising the client and Hazel in bed when he discovers that both have been brutally murdered. He immediately becomes a suspect, though he trails along with his ex-partner during the investigation and discovers some other suspects - not only who had a reason to knock off the artist, but who had plenty of reason to frame Tony for the crime.
This is a very well produced and directed film with brilliant construction. The detail in evoking the atmosphere of the late '50s is wonderful, and if there were ever a film that deserved a "best costumes" nomination for an Oscar, this is it.
The acting is all around very good, with a good deal of the film's budget going to Liam Neeson, who back then was a prolific actor two years from superstardom. Neeson is terrific as a loser who has made one mistake after another so that a noose around his neck seems appropriate. Yet there's something likable about him, and earnest, too, so that the audience feels that though he may not have been able to keep his pants zipped, at heart he's not a bad guy. Laura San Giacomo, who has enjoyed an okay film career but is now best known for her work in the TV series "Just Shoot Me" is very effective as the mysterious mistress whom Tony suspects may have had something to do with her boyfriend's murder. Kenneth Cranham, a very familiar face in British productions, is excellent as Tony's loyal ex-partner, who risks his own job protecting his friend. An absolutely gorgeous woman, Alphonsia Emmanuel, plays Stasio's wife and does a good job in a role that, were she not so beautiful, would probably not have been noticed.
Any film that has me yelling out loud at the screen at 3 a.m. is a good movie in my book. That's the level of suspense that "Under Suspicion" has - if you have a weak heart, take medication first. It's absolutely thrilling.