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Mortal Thoughts
Mortal Thoughts
Actors: Demi Moore, Glenne Headly, Bruce Willis, John Pankow, Harvey Keitel
Director: Alan Rudolph
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     1998     1hr 42min


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Movie Details

Actors: Demi Moore, Glenne Headly, Bruce Willis, John Pankow, Harvey Keitel
Director: Alan Rudolph
Creators: Demi Moore, John Fiedler, Joseph M. Caracciolo Jr., Mark Tarlov, Stuart Benjamin, Claude Kerven, William Reilly
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/25/1998
Original Release Date: 04/19/1991
Theatrical Release Date: 04/19/1991
Release Year: 1998
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 16
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Sandra F. (Sami) from ST PETERSBURG, FL
Reviewed on 5/24/2008...
Good thriller with a twist at the end. Worth watching.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Better than its reputation
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 04/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"First of all I have no idea why this was named "Mortal Thoughts." More appropriate would be, "Fatal Lies" or "An Inadvertent Confession," or maybe "Desperate Friends."

Be that as it may, this is a superior thriller mainly because the story is compelling and the acting is first rate. Demi Moore who plays Cynthia is just outstanding. She commands the screen with her beautiful and expressive features and her great natural skill. If you don't like her, I guarantee you will not like this movie because she dominates the film. She is as vivid and unforgettable as an Al Pacino or a Betty Davis.

As an aside on the career of Demi Moore, I want to say that it's a shame for her that her off-screen personality is not well liked, which in large part accounts for the fact that she is one of the most underrated, although one of the most often seen and hardest-working stars of the last fifteen years or so. This movie is an example of how she is ignored. The plain fact is her performance here is better than many who have won Oscars, and she wasn't even nominated. Another problem for her is that this movie (and others she has made) are not the sort of films that the Academy pays much attention to. Mortal Thoughts (which she co-produced, by the way) is too low-budget, too "common" one might say, for any part in it to be taken seriously in an artistic sense. Too bad.

Glenne Headly (Joyce) is also outstanding while Bruce Willis is excellent as Joyce's drug-addled, boozing, wife-beating loser of a husband. The dialogue is right on, realistically depicting the lives of New Jersey beauty shop people while the plot told in ersatz flashbacks unfolds nicely with a fine tension.

The story is that of two friends, Joyce and Cynthia who find they have to cover up a killing (NOT a murder, but at worst a manslaughter, or better yet, a case of self-defense), but fall apart as the investigation closes in on them. In a sense they are both like Lady Macbeth with blood on their hands and no effective way to wash it off. They are both appropriately naive as young working-class women, and both act foolishly, as many of us might in their predicament.

Here's a nice bit of ironic dialogue. Joyce is questioning her ability to convince people about what happened. She tells Cynthia that she isn't a very good liar. But Cynthia reassures her: "Joyce, you're a terrific liar. You just lost confidence in yourself."

This is all to the good as far as film-making goes. It is the ending that is the problem.

One might ask, what happened to the ending? Maybe I need to watch this again to be sure I didn't miss anything. But better yet, YOU watch it and you be the judge. What I think happened is director Alan Rudolph truncated it. Either that or he decided to try something artistic, which I don't recommend in a commercial thriller flick. Maybe they just ran out of money and had to wrap it up. At any rate, we are left wondering what is going to happen and who actually did what to whom. Presumably, the last flashback from Cynthia tells us how Bruce Willis's character met his end, but that doesn't solve the problem of how or why [somebody else] was shot full of holes. Maybe the producers thought they would wrap it all up in a sequel. Actually, there's enough there for one, easily.

I would also like to complain about a movie that acts out a false story told by one of the characters as though the story were true. That can be done, but it must be done in such a way that there is some kind of hint or "coloring" of the story that allows the viewer to suspect that something is amiss. True, Det. John Woods (Harvey Keitel) makes some compelling arguments along the way to suggest that Cynthia is not telling the truth, but we are mislead by the actions that our eyes see and the sounds that our ears hear. In movies, since anything can be contrived, it is the usual rule to have the camera show the truth while letting the characters do the lying.

What might have saved this (and what I was expecting all the way through) is Joyce's side of the story acted out on screen so that we could compare the stories and make our choice about who was telling the truth.

Bottom line: better than one might expect with a realistic edge clearly a notch or two above the usual thriller fare."
A superb thriller/drama with a terrible miscalculation
Mr. Cairene | Cairo, Egypt | 04/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Alan Rudolph's Mortal Thoughts is a drama about murder, not movie murder where a hitmen shoots a guy dead with rock music on the soundtrack, but real-life murder, where the killer/killers have a crises of conscience, act with shock, disbelief and paranoia. The film is set around two couples, James (Bruce Willis) & Joyce(Glenne Headly)and Cynthia(Demi Moore) & Arthur (John Pankow). The film starts out as a pitch black comedy, with Bruce Willis giving an excellent performance as the loud, abusive and downright nasty James. His wife Joyce played by the lovely Glenne Headly is a neurotic who is constantly half kidding her best friend Cynthia about how she would like to kill him. The whole movie is carefully framed with a detective (Harvey Kietel) asking Cynthia questions about one or several crimes. Slowly the flashbacks reveal the events as if they were happening in real time, and the film's momentum builds to a point where it becomes an unbearably tense drama. The murder or murders in Mortal Thoughts are not commited by a movie-physcopath, but people who have lost their nerve. Throught out the film they have to clean up after it, hide evidence and virtually go insane in the proccess. It the documentary like portrayel of the murders and the first rate acting that makes this film so much better then the countless other murder mysteries you may have seen. The film however does have one major flaw. After slowly revealing its cards with tense intorrogation scenes the ending is a complete cop out. Without giving anything away, I will say that after working so hard on revealing the facts in the detective's questioning, the truth is unveiled by us seeing the thoughts of one of the major characters. This is not only cheating, but it also leaves a second major crime unresolved. Despite this, I highly reccomend you see this film. It has a certain truthfulness that makes it more unerving then many serial killer movies."
Undeservedly Unsung, First Rate Crime Movie
snalen | UK | 03/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Alan Rudoph started out as something of a protégé of Altman's in the 1970s, assistant directing on The Long Goodbye, California Split and Nashville. Since then he's made a good number of movies of his own that, from what I've seen, tend to be rather uncommercial, slow, serious, painstakingly realistic, sometimes maybe a little dull, but often very interesting films. This is certainly a high point, very interesting indeed and very far from dull. It's a really first rate crime story comprising a long conversation between a detective, played by Harvey Keitel and the central character Cynthia, played by Demi Moore in one of her best performances. The story she has to tell is relayed to us in flashback and deals with her best friend Joyce (Glenne Headly, another excellent performance) and her truly horrible, brutal bully of a husband James (Bruce Willis, also excellent - hateful and frightening but very believable); how Joyce always liked to fantasise about killing James off; how one day he does indeed end up dead; how they agree to lose the body and say nothing to anyone, how their relationship then bends and breaks under the strain; and what happens next. This subtle, intelligent, fabulously well-constructed film is one of the very best crime movies to come from the States in recent years and deserves to be a lot better known."