Dead Again was directed by famed thespian and Gilderoy Lockhart himself Kenneth Branagh directly after his big screen success with Henry V - that's Henry the Fifth to American readers not the fifth part of a trilogy. Only his second attempt at directing a film and writer Scott Frank's first full feature (he would later go on to write such quality work as Get Shorty, Out of Sight and The Lookout.)
The theatrical artwork is pretty awesome if you ask me. Really high quality work that kinda freaks you out a bit if you look at it too much. DVD cover on the other hand is merely OK. At first I didn't notice that it was simply both leads repeated in their different roles which is a nice touch however.
It really ratchets up the tension this trailer doesn't it. You think you know what this movie is about? Prepare to be surprised. The trailer is a bit misleading I would say.
A brief synopsis: Grace is a missing person who has lost her voice other than to scream during night terrors. Mike is a PI who is pressured in to helping her. Grace dreams about Roman and Margaret Strauss and the 1949 murder of Margaret. The Strauss couple looked exactly like Grace and Mike. They investigate the earlier murder to try to discover the truth about Grace.
I'd not heard about this movie until recently but it seems to have been at least a little popular at the time of it's release, tripling its budget with its US box office alone. I find it odd how films start off with high praise and just get forgotten about over time. If I was a multiplex owner with a digital projector I'd look in to screening classic movies for less money. If I owned the rights to all of these old films I'd look at this as a new revenue stream. The film and music industries are always so slow to investigate new revenue streams, only worried about whats happening to old revenue streams. Do not fear, I just bought Brief Encounter on Blu-ray, there's a demand for those things that are bought and paid for!
Anyway the film is enjoyable to a point, the idea is pretty good and as my friend Simon would be quick to point out, it's intricately plotted. Both lead actors and all supporting cast including Newman from Seinfeld are very good. I particularly love Emma Thompson but then I love Emma Thompson in everything. More to come late on my MILF crush. (That's so disrespectful but I have no other way of putting it in my head right now.)
Where this film falls down (and it is only minor points really) is with the theatrical staging of certain scenes and the score. Yes Ken Branagh is a stage actor/director so his theatrical leanings are bound to come out in his first real feature film but even so I think he needed somebody to say "hold on Ken baby you're playing this one as if it's on stage, how about some camera movement or more naturalised movement from the characters?" this is only occasionally mind you as generally it's very well done. The score on the other hand became a near constant source or amusement/irritation. It clearly served a dual purpose, 1) to remove the audience from the action by highlighting the filmic device of music accentuating action and 2) being absolutely silly to the point where there's a chase scene with a potential murder at the end of it and the music sounds like we're on a jolly old horse ride or something.
But it was mostly enjoyable and if you're stuck for a thriller/drama with some nice comedy moments and the charming Emma Thompson you should definitely check this film out. But as I said about Training Day recently, choose wisely. There are many films out there to watch so if you haven't seen The Usual Suspects or Seven yet watch those instead.
I should take this opportunity to mention that Marvel recently picked this stage director to make Thor. I haven't seen Thor but the idea of Kenneth Branagh directing it makes me want to see it even more now. I can't say why this is so but it must have something to do with Henry V. I have seen Sleuth recently and that was just like watching a stage production too and this is not something you would associate with a summer blockbuster superhero comic book film. Bring it on, to use the parlance of our times.
As mentioned at the top I don't have a huge amount to say about this film in the end and I've been looking for an excuse to write a little bit about Emma Thompson for a few weeks now. She came in to my shop with her family recently and I was amazed by the fact that she's really very beautiful in person without the makeup and dressed casually, I kinda expected it to be a movie thing you know. And on top of that she seemed like a really nice person. As did her acting husband (the one after Ken Branagh) and her daughter was extremely well spoken. Hurrah for manners.
So here's a brief rundown of some of my favourite Emma Thompson performances/movies.
1. Love Actually (2003) - Karen
So she's the Prime Minister's sister and married to Alan Rickman, whilst being a shoulder to cry on for the recently widowed Liam Neeson, largely ignored by two domineering men she still manages to be a kind yet forceful mother and friend. It's not a fully fleshed out character, like everybody in Love Actually, but she is rather wonderful, funny when needed (Emma Thompson went to university with Fry and Laurie don't you know) and really pulls off the broken hearted lover to perfection towards the end.
2. Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) - Professor Trelawney
I'm really bored with Harry Potter these days but going back to the third instalment the appearance of Emma Thompson as the scatterbrained, hippy-like Trelawney was pretty cool. I laughed a lot and she's really quite scary in a jump out of your seat kinda way. This is her Monster role. Make someone beautiful look ugly in a film and they win an Oscar right? Not in this case.
3. Last Chance Harvey (2008) - Kate
I really wanted to love this movie, the trailer looks like a great time, Dustin Hoffman is great in everything, Emma Thompson looks like she's her usual excellent self. And it is romantic and funny and both actors were very good but it just left me feeling like there was one ingredient missing, like they forgot to season with some salt whilst they were simmering or something. But it certainly pisses all over those Jennifer Aniston vehicles.
4. I Am Legend (2007) - Dr. Krippin
She's barely in it but she did bring the world to an end so that's a pretty big part. Other people may have been able to play this role but Emma Thompson just brings her natural sense of fun and class to the performance.
5. Stranger Than Fiction (2006) - Karen
I loved this film, a wonderful script, great casting which produced standout performances. Nobody ever thought Will Ferrell could act before this film. And Emma Thompson is perfect as the writer with writer's block. Delight in her dead pan sarcasm and playful way of narrating Harold Crick's life.
Yeah I ignored the fact that she won Oscars for period dramas. She can do that too by the way.
If you like the sound of the movie from my review and actually watch it, let me know. If you don't agree with me, let me know. What are your thoughts on Ms Thompson? Film is an art form and art is open to interpretation in any number of ways. The discussion of art and individual interpretation is encouraged around here. And if you enjoy the movie head down to your local independent movie store and buy it, it's only through us actually paying for films that these film makers will get to work again. At least in an ideal world that will be the case. I'm looking at you Uwe Boll.
Dead Again (1991) DivX - icefilms.info