Movie review by Anna Payton
Stars: Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, Haley Bennett, Vincent Kartheiser, Eddie Marsan
Director: Andy Goddard
Screenwriters: Patricia Highsmith & Susan Boyd
A Kind of Murder, set in vibrant 1960s, tells a story of Walter Stackhouse (Patrick Wilson) a successful New York architect and a wannabe crime novelist, unhappily married to neurotic, suicidal Clara (Jessica Biel). Scouring newspaper for an inspiration, Walter comes across an article about a woman murdered at a local bus stop. His life spirals out of control when his at first innocent fascination with the prime suspect– the victim’s husband, bookshop owner Mr Kimmel (Eddie Marsan), rapidly develops into daydream obsession about killing Clara. When coincidentally, or not, Clara is found dead at the place of the previous murder, Detective Corby (Vincent Kartheiser), the leading investigator, is determined to prove that both Kimmel and Stackhouse, not only successfully disposed of their spouses but also knew each other prior to the murders.
The film is based on a high selling psychological thriller of Patricia Highsmith ‘The Blunderer’, an author of ‘The Price of Salt’ – aka ‘Carol’, and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, both successfully adapted into blockbusters. Unfortunately, A Kind of Murder does not share their success.
Even though, stylistically, with its noirish grade and the distinctive play of lights, the film is strikingly elegant, the tension of the visuals negatively contrasts with the very vexatious absence of the tension in the plot. With the disappointingly underdeveloped characters and pitifully missed plot twists, there simply isn’t enough interaction between the opposing forces in the story, intentionally obscured from the viewer for reasons unknown, thus making the movie slow paced and ambiguous at times. Clara never confronts Ellie (Haley Bennett), a seductive singer with whom Walter has an affair, Walter’s obsession with Kimmel is left highly unexplored and Detective Corby is plainly not strong enough to pose a decent threat to any of the characters.
The director, Andy Goddard, seemed to have deficiently concentrated his efforts on the stylistic design of the film, in return depreciated the production through underusing the screen time of the actors who could offer so much more.
Overall, A Kind of Murder is what it says on the box – ‘a kind of’ psychological thriller, with the psychological and thriller parts absent.