Killing Me Softly
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
chance encounter Chinese director Chen (Farewell My Concubine) makes his English debut with this atmospheric British thriller. Pity it's such a bad movie. Alice (Graham) is an American in London, living happily with her boyfriend (Hughes) when she has a lightning-strike, love-at-first-sight moment with the darkly handsome Adam (Fiennes). Even though she knows little about Adam, she upsets her life, giving herself completely to a very lusty and energetic relationship. Then she starts getting anonymous warning letters. And Adam's fierce temper starts hinting at even more darkness beneath the surface.

There's a clear Hitchcock vibe here, complete with soaring orchestral score, swooping cameras and a willingness to put a woman in danger in the middle of bright, everyday locations. These are the best aspects of the film, which does create mysterious characters effectively. Unfortunately, once it starts to twist and reveal the secrets the whole thing comes crashing to pieces--nothing about the story hangs together, the characters become increasingly stiff and unbelievable, and the incessant red herrings finally become too much to bear. I mean, who cares whether Alice is really in danger or if she's just built up these suspicions in her mind? It starts out OK, and it looks great, but in the end this is a sub-par Sleeping with the Enemy knock-off, spiced up with kinky sex and a twisty story that just gets more idiotic with each passing second.

cert 18 adult themes and situations, language, nudity, violence 2.May.02

dir Chen Kaige
scr Kara Lindstrom
with Heather Graham, Joseph Fiennes, Natascha McElhone, Jason Hughes, Ian Hart, Ulrich Thomsen, Yasmin Bannerman, Kika Markham, Helen Grace, Olivia Poulet, Ronan Vibert, Rebecca Palmer
release UK 21.Jun.02
MGM 02/UK 1h40

Chance encounter. When Adam and Alice (Fiennes and Graham) meet, their entire lives change forever....

graham fiennes mcelhone hart
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
chance encounter send your review to Shadows... "Honestly I found it quite refreshing. I mean, if you're looking for Cinema with a capital C this isn't the place to go, but if you want to be entertained by a film which is fun and doesn't take itself too seriously (a very rare and much appreciated quality these days), this movie does the trick. It's suspensful, fast paced, full of atmosphere and, as you wrote, Hitchcockian - what's wrong with that? Plus, Fiennes has such fun with his character, although admittedly Heather Graham is a bit dull, the other actors are good too. I definitely recommend this movie for just some good old-fashioned escapism - isn't that what movies were originally meant for?" --Carol Teri, Florence, Italy 29.May.02
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall