Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Kind of Murder Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel star in the Hitchcockian noir based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Carol). It’s 1960 in Manhattan and Walter Stackhouse (Wilson) seems to have I all: status, money, and a “happy” marriage. But he has become obsessed with Mart Kimmel (Eddie Marsan), a man suspected of killing his wife. The brutal murder unlocks Walter’s darkest fantasies – his desire to be free from his own wife, the beautiful but damaged Clara (Biel). When she is found dead in suspicious circumstances the lines blur between innocence and intent. Who, in fact, is the real killer?

Film (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Walter and Clara Stackhouse have a seemingly perfect marriage. Sure they have their issues – Walter has lost patience for Clara’s alcohol-induced jealousy, Clara runs to her mother at the slightest inference of illness, and both of them can’t seem to stand each other. By day, Walter is a successful architect and by night, he’s a novelist working on his next project in the basement of his house. Walter and Clara hear of a man who is suspected of murdering his wife, a woman who rides the same bus route Clara rides when she visits her mother. Walter becomes obsessed with the Kimmel case. He researches everything he can about the case, even going so far as to visiting Kimmel’s bookstore and engaging in business with him.

One evening, after a particularly bad argument, Clara leaves Walter to go to her mother’s because as it has happened so many times before “she’s going to die tonight.” Walter follows the bus to the first rest stop and watches as Clara gets off the bus and enters the diner. When she doesn’t come back to the bus and it leaves without her, Walter wonders where she went and goes into the diner to ask if anyone saw her. Shortly after, Clara’s body is found in the woods near the diner, killed in the same manner that Kimmel’s wife was killed. This sets off a sting of questions for both Walter and Kimmel by the investigating detective, Corby. Corby believes that both men killed their wives, but can’t make the connection between the two. This sets him off on a quest to find the truth about both deaths, connect the men, and arrest them for the murders.

A Kind of Murder was an interesting film noir movie and story. While I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie as a whole, I really liked the story’s premise and would be interested in reading the book it was based on. Patrick Wilson was good as Walter Stackhouse, but I thought Jessica Biel was not the right actress to portray Clara. I felt her scenes were forced and her acting didn’t seem natural. I am also not a fan of Vincent Kartheiser, he always seems like he’s a little kid playing dress up as a tough guy.
I like film noir, I like murder mysteries, and I like Patrick Wilson. Unfortunately, for me, those three things alone couldn’t end my boredom. I found myself watching the clock and wanting the movie to be over.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
A Kind of Murder’s 1080p high definition was good. The director and visual staff did a great job with the level of darkness and bringing in the film noir feeling. Night shots (and there were a lot of them) were bright enough to be seen clearly, but still dark enough to know it was night. The sets were really good and brought in the feel of the 1960s. The picture was clear and smooth and there were no visual issues. For me, the picture was the best part of the movie.
Audio (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio for A Kind of Murder was good. The sound was even and clear. Dialogue was smooth and background sounds blended well. The volume level was really low but even. I had a hard time hearing what was being said without turning the volume way up.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The special features didn’t give a lot more insight into the movie. I would have liked to have seen a “page-to-screen” feature that talked about the book. I did enjoy the feature that showed how they transformed the sets into 1960s New York.
  • The Psychological Andy Goddard (10:39) – Interviews with the cast and crew regarding the filming of the movie. They all touched on the psychological aspect of the story and how the film came together through the sets, the story, the cast and the crew.
  • The 60s Look (5:07) – A look behind of the scenes of the movies sets, costumes and other visuals. It’s always interesting to watch a feature from a different time period come to life.
  • The Noirish Characters of A Kind of Murder (14:33) – Another behind the scenes look at the movie, this time focusing on the characters of the movie.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:24)
  • Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
A Kind of Murder was a good story that for me, didn’t translate well into a movie. The acting was a little uneven, and I was a bit bored. I am interested in the source material and will likely pick up the book, but I probably will not watch the movie again. It’s not a movie I would have chosen to watch, but I’m glad I did because I’ll add the book to my “to be read” list.

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