"Your Cheating Heart"
A PERFECT MURDER is a suspense thriller about a cold-hearted man trying to murder his adulterous wife so he can inherit her money. The movie takes a moral stance on the subjects of adultery and murder, including two references to the protectful eye of God, but it also contains three violent deaths (two by self-defense), some foul language and superficial character motives regarding the female lead.
Actor Michael Douglas has made a good career out of playing slimy or shady characters. He tops his own standards in the new suspense thriller A PERFECT MURDER by FUGITIVE director Andrew Davis. Based on the play “Dial M for Murder” by Frederick Knott, which Alfred Hitchcock filmed in the early 1950s with Grace Kelly, A PERFECT MURDER is an engaging suspense thriller about a cold-hearted man trying to murder his adulterous wife so he can inherit her money. The movie takes a moral stance on the subjects of adultery and murder, including two strong references to the protectful eye of God, but it also contains three violent deaths (two by self-defense) and some foul language.
When financially troubled industrialist Steven Taylor, played by Michael Douglas, finds out his rich, talented wife Emily, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is having an affair with a poor artist, he hatches a complex plot to murder his wife. With cunning stealth, he privately confronts the artist, David Shaw, played by Viggo Mortensen. Steven knows that David is really an ex-con implicated in the death of another rich woman. He offers David $400,000 to break into his house and murder Emily as if he were a surprised burglar. Steven will have a perfect alibi – he will be at his weekly poker game. David outsmarts Steven by having a friend do the evil deed, but both men are outsmarted when Emily manages to kill the intruder.
Steven is surprised by the fact that David isn’t the dead man. Emily begins to have suspicions about her husband when certain details don’t add up. She finds out that her husband is losing his shirt on Wall Street because he borrowed money to invest but didn’t pay the investment companies either. Now, both the banks and the investment companies want their money. Sooner rather than later, he won’t have any money left.
Meanwhile, David blackmails Steven into giving him the rest of his blood money, even though their plan failed. David reveals that he recorded their conversation when Steven went over the murder plan with David. Steven gets the money but is confronted at his office by Emily who questions her husband about the pesky details regarding the dead intruder. Using his knowledge about David’s secret past, Steven makes up a good story about the details and convinces his wife that he really loves her. Despite this, Steven’s plans to restore his marriage go astray because there is still murder and greed in his heart.
Most critics consider Alfred Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER to be one of the master storyteller’s moderate successes. Such is the case with this remake starring Michael Douglas. The acting in A PERFECT MURDER is top-notch, but the characters as scripted still aren’t interesting enough to be completely worth seeing. There is no feeling in the movie, for instance, as to why Emily married Steven originally or why she’s attracted to David other than his looks and apparent sexual prowess. Thus, it is hard for the audience to care what happens to Steven’s relationship with Emily or Emily’s relationship with David. In this triangle, Emily is the key to the whole affair, yet the audience knows very little about her beyond the fact that she hates the cold way her husband treats her. Even though the audience also knows she works as a multi-lingual translator to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, she apparently has no aspirations other than hopping into the sack with a mediocre avant-garde artist.
This is a big flaw in the movie’s character motivation. Although A PERFECT MURDER takes a moral stance on the subjects of adultery and murder and includes two strong references to the protectful eye of God, it fails to rise above its obvious intentions to thrill an audience with murder and excite them with another professional performance by one of America’s most gifted actors, Michael Douglas
(BB, PaPa, LL, VV, SS, NN, A, D, M) Moral worldview, including two important references to a monotheistic God, accompanied by pagan elements where characters act in clearly immoral ways; 13 obscenities & 2 profanities; three violent deaths, two of which are in self-defense; two scenes of depicted adultery; upper rear nudity of man & woman covered by bedsheets & each other; alcohol use; smoking; and, blackmail, lying & married couple fails to work on marriage problems.