Lets face it, Mondays suck. They can feel like the furthest point to the weekend and if like me you have faced a nightmarish commute twice a day, it can leave you feeling capable of murder.
I love a good murder mystery, from big screen movies like Se7en, to TV series like Luther, Sherlock and the impossible to dislike Castle. It’s a genre that has room to accommodate plenty of variants, and we can’t seem to get enough of it.
So every Monday night from hence forth, I will be recommending and watching a murder mystery movie or occasionally a TV series. It’s the perfect way to ease into a new week and vent some of that Monday murderous rage, unless of course it’s just me who suffers from that?
Before Kenneth Branagh brought his talents to direct Thor, he branched out back in 1991 and did something different for his second film as a director. Dead Again sees both Branagh and his then wife Emma Thompson take duel roles, and Robin Williams, Andy Garcia, Campbell Scott and Derek Jacobi flesh out the supporting roles in this murder mystery.
In the modern world, Private Detective Mike Church (Branagh) is a bit rough around the edges but is a dab hand and finding missing people. He takes on a case to help an amnesic mystery woman learn who she is; apart from night terrors she is mute so he gives her the name Grace.
Grace’s ongoing nightmares involve the murder of a woman calledMargaret Strauss in the late 1940’s. Margaret’s husband, Roman Strauss a respected composer, was arrested and given the death penalty for his crime, the murder of his wife. Grace is a dead ringer for Margaret, and Mike is identical to Roman. Is this coincidence? Were these strangers married in a previous life?
They visit hypnotist Franklyn Madson (Jacobi), and through a series of seasons the truth surrounding that fateful night back in the 1940s starts to become clear. Weaving a modern mystery with a period set whodunit, Dead Again should be applauded for trying to do something different with the genre.
The script was written by Scott Frank, the acclaimed writer would go on to win an Oscar in 1999 for his outstanding work on Out Of Sight and he also wrote Get Shorty which as again based on a book by Elmore Leonard. So imagine my shock and disbelief to discover he also wrote Owen Wilson dog comedy Marley and Me.
Dead Again is a tremendously enjoyable whodunit, the period setting for the flashbacks are well constructed and there are enough twists and turns to keep even the most avid murder mystery fan guessing.
Like most films in this genre, the third act suffers from some plot holes and rushed conclusion. There are plenty of Hitchcock throw back moments, and Derek Jacobi adds a layer of class to the proceedings. Robin Williams might only have an extended cameo, but Cozy Carlisle ranks as an early dark performance from Williams one that would be fully explored in One Hour Photo, Insomnia and the marvelous Death To Smoochy.
If you’ve not seen Dead Again it’s worth seeking out, it’s a rare deviation for Branagh as a director and it makes you wish he did more murder mystery movies as it’s a genre he does effortlessly.