When I sit myself down to watch a movie that claims to be a wonderful mystery / thriller, I'm expecting to be a little frightened. There should be, at some point, that need to hide my face behind my fingers, or turn my head completely. My heart should start pounding and my hands should be grasping the sides of my chair. That's what SHOULD happen. Once in a while, though, I run across a film that promises these effects, but doesn't deliver. I found that this morning as I watched Guilty As Sin.
Recommend this product?
Guilty As Sin was released in 1993, directed by Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) and it stars Rebecca De Mornay as Defense Attorney Jennifer Haines, and Mr. Miami Vice himself, Don Johnson as her Client, David Greenhill. Reading directly from the back of the video jacket I see it claims this to be a spine-tingling, seductively sexy thriller.... a lawyer captured by her client's irresistible charm, finds herself caught in his seductive, psychological web of deceit.... This sounds like a good one, doesn't it? We'll see.
Now before we proceed any further, it's confession time. You see, I have this little personal gauge that I use when watching a film that I like to call the "Oh, Come On" factor. If I've found myself thinking those words more often than taking sips of coffee while I'm watching, then that does not bode well for the film. Guilty as Sin just about wore out the needle on my "Oh, Come On" gauge.
The story begins in a Courtroom. There is a witness on the stand being questioned by our defense attorney, Ms. Haines. She breaks him down in the finest Perry Mason style and ultimately, the case is dismissed and her Client is released. The entire Courtroom erupts with applause. Oh, Come On...
During the length of this trial, there has been a good looking man sitting in the audience every day, watching Ms. Haines doing what she does best. She has no idea who he is, although his face has been plastered across local Newspapers with subtitles such as "Police Seek Husband in Wife's Plunge". Well, they couldn't have been looking very hard, with the man entering a Federal Courthouse every day. There tends to be an over-abundance of Officers, Lawyers and the general public that frequent such a place. And yet the Police were seeking him??? And she doesn't recognize him? The woman doesn't read newspapers? Oh, Come On...
The morning after her grand victory, Ms. Haines arrives in her opulant office. It's a beauty. Miles of windows with the most expensive of furnishings, a desk large enough and shiny enough for an ice-skater to perform a triple-lutz upon. The signs of success are all there. Within moments Ms. Haine's secretary brings in a newspaper. Well, Holy Smokes, if it isn't THAT MAN's picture splashed across the front page. And seconds later THAT MAN appears in her office. Oh, Come On...
As it turns out, THAT MAN - aka - Mr. Greenhill needs an attorney. He's been accusing of pushing his wife throw an open window and falling to her death. Of course he says he didn't do it. He says that his wife was crazy. She had just been released from 7 months of being institutionalized for clinical depression. She blamed him and wanted to get even by writing letters, expressing her fear of him. A fear that didn't really exist, though, because he's just so darn charming and cute and he sheepishly confesses to having a talent for getting women to do what he wants. Oh, Come On...
The story progresses as Ms. Haines finally agrees to represent Mr. Greenhill and begins to find out some things she really doesn't want to know. She can't repeat what he says, though, due to the Protection of Privilege between an attorney and a client. Did he really kill his wife...and others before her? Is he out to kill her? And did he really beat her boyfriend to a pulp? And why the heck did he pick up her drycleaning? Oh, Come On...
This is a psychological drama that just didn't work for me. Maybe it's because of my pre-conceived notions of what to expect from either of the main players here, Rebecca De Mornay and Don Johnson. They each tried to "out-psyche" the other with deadly stares and I personally just didn't find it believeable.
Jack Warden plays the role of Moe, an advisor and investigator for Ms. Haines. Now I really like Jack Warden. It seems like he's been around forever (12 Angry Men...the 1957 release, While You Were Sleeping, to name just a couple) and it's rare to see him give a poor performance. And that holds true in Guilty As Sin. His appearance was one of the few redeeming qualities in this film.
Dana Ivey (Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, Sleepless in Seattle) is seen briefly as Judge Tompkins. She is her usual feisty self. And Stephen Lang plays the role of Phil, Ms. Haines' boyfriend. His character seemed to be tossed in as filler material. He does nothing to make you either like or dislike him...he's just there.
Guilty As Sin runs for 107 minutes and was filmed in Toronto. It is rated R. There is just a glimpse of nudity with some hanky-pankyin' on the couch, but that's about it. There is some language that I suppose could be considered offensive to some folks, and the violence was nothing more than you'd see on an episode of Cops.
If you are given a choice between watching this and going to have your feet scraped, go for the feet. It would be the less painful of the two.
This is my more painful entry into the Excellent and Excrutiating Write/off that is being hosted by a couple of my friends. Obviously, this was a most Excrutiating movie to review. I can thank Dave for putting me through this agony.
It's counterpart, the Excellent movie review, was quite a bit more fun. So a big thanks to Slarter for helping me recuperate.
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