For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Hitchcockian Films, here’s a review of Dead Again (1991) by SG of Rhyme and Reason
Thanks again to Michael Eddy for choosing this month’s genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Vinnie of Vinnie H. and it is Historical True Story Films.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of February by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Try to think out of the box! Great choice Vinnie!
Let’s see what SG thought of this movie:
Many believe that you die only once,
While others contend that your consciousness hunts
For peace and fulfillment most souls rarely find
But ever will search for the peace that it wants,
Through life after life after lifetime combined,
Each one a new chance as it plays with your mind.
As well-respected a director as Kenneth Branagh is, I must admit I’ve only been exposed to his more commercial films like Thor, Cinderella, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I’ve yet to broach his Shakespearean work, and seeing Dead Again was solely based on a recommendation since it was actually a Christmas present. Even so, I found it to be a far meatier thriller for his well-polished directorial talent, with an intriguing twist worthy of Hitchcock himself.
Branagh stars with his wife-at-the-time Emma Thompson, both shedding their British accents to play convincing Americans. First, we get a glimpse into the Strauss murder case from the 1940s, then jumping ahead forty years to where Branagh’s private eye is tasked with helping an amnesiac woman he names Grace (Thompson). He doesn’t get anywhere with her until the arrival of a smarmy but helpful antiques dealer (Derek Jacobi), whose skill at hypnotism unlocks Thompson’s voice, memories, and a decades-old mystery.
This kind of story really is all about the mystery so I won’t go into much detail, but the way it unfolds is expertly done, with flashbacks and hypnosis sessions slowly peeling back the layers of what’s going on. We’re kept constantly guessing up until a clever little convolution that ensures the audience’s brains are engaged, and the building tension at the end is splendidly Hitchcockian. One thing was a bit bizarre: Within the first half, I blurted out my guess of whodunit based on the flimsiest of hunches, and lo and behold, it turned out to be right! It’s really not that obvious until the end, so I can only assume it was a lucky guess, and I certainly didn’t solve the whole mystery.
Being so dependent on the mystery, I’m not sure how rewatchable Dead Again is now that I’ve seen it, but thinking back, there were loads of foreshadowing that I’ll likely revisit. (I do own it now after all.) The plot hinges on paranormal stuff I don’t fully buy into, like hypnosis and reincarnation, but the story was strong, as were the actors, including a small foul-mouthed part for Robin Williams, who went uncredited at the beginning (apparently so the audience wouldn’t think it was a comedy). Dead Again certainly proved Kenneth Branagh’s proficiency both behind and in front of the camera and made for a highly enjoyable mystery thriller. I’m not looking forward to exploring his Shakespeare catalogue, but if this is any indication, I might be surprised.
Best line: (Gray Baker, played by Andy Garcia) “Aren’t you afraid of dying?” (Roman Strauss) “To die is different than what anyone supposes and luckier.” (Baker) “Is that a line from your opera?” (Strauss) “It’s Walt Whitman. I can’t take credit for everything, Mr. Baker.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2018 S.G. Liput
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