History repeating itself
Elisabeth | 06/28/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This story takes place in the present day and is about an unnamed woman (Emma Thompson) who keeps having reoccurring nightmares about a man named Roman Strauss who, in the 1940's, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his wife Margaret Strauss. What's interesting is that Margaret in these dreams also looks identical to the unnamed woman of present day.
We're also told that something traumatic happened to this unnamed woman that has caused her to lose both her memory and her voice.
One day, a L.A. private eye named Mike Church (Kenneth Branagh), who also happens to look identical to Roman Strauss in the dreams, is instructed to transport this unnamed woman (whom he's called "Grace") to a mental hospital. However, once they get there, he has a change of heart and instead, has Grace stay at his place.
To help get her memory back, Mike also has Grace see a hypnotist (Derek Jacobi) who might be able to uncover some of her traumatic memories.
What's interesting is that, as we're told more and more about her dreams, the events from the 1940's start to happen in present day, too. And so, there's building suspense if Mike will end up killing Grace just like Roman ended up killing his wife Margaret in the 1940's. But the story gets even more complicated as more suspects start entering the picture, too. There then becomes a possibility that maybe Roman was wrongly accused of a crime he didn't commit....so then where does that leave Grace's fate?
This is a very entertaining and compelling movie to watch. The acting is pretty good, too, except in some cases, Branagh looks a little awkward in this role. There is, however, good chemistry between Branagh and Thompson (it helps they were a real life married couple during this time).
I liked that her dreams are presented in black and white as a way to help you get a feel for that era...and to also help distinguish the two stories apart.
However, there was something odd I noticed, too. For example, when Grace first meets Mike, she isn't surprised that he looks identical to the murdering husband in her dreams, which is odd. Also, when they're visiting the hypnotist and the hypnotist shows Mike and Grace a photo of Roman and Margaret Strauss, neither look surprised that the couple look identical to them.
There's also a problem with the first dream Grace has involving Roman and the detective (Andy Garcia). Given how the movie ends, this first scene doesn't make sense.
Another problem I had was the fight scene towards the end looked kind of silly.
But other than that, I found this movie suspenseful and entertaining.
Dead Again... Zombie Hitchcock
Julian Kennedy | St Pete Florida | 10/21/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dead Again: 5 out of 10: On-screen chemistry is a funny thing. Some couples simply have it. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make a cute believable couple; William Powell and Myrna Loy in their fourteen films together are in my mind the silvers screens best pairing.
On the other hand, Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson have no onscreen chemistry whatsoever. One might say despite the fact they were married, yet I would argue that too often whatever chemistry causes an off-screen couple to hook-up simply does not translate to the movies. In fact in many cases it seems to create a negative chemistry onscreen. (Think Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.)
Since Dead Again is at its heart a love story, the lack of chemistry is deadly. Branagh and Thompson play two couples. The first, filmed in beautiful black and white, are an angry World War 2 refugee and opera composer and his murdered wife. He goes to the chair for her murder and we flash forward to Branagh as a missing persons detective and Thompson as a crazy mute lady with amnesia. They may be connected to the previous couple and both stories are told alternately throughout the film.
The film itself (in particular the black and white flashbacks) is gorgeous, yet Branagh as a director plays too many tricks for his own good. He cribs so liberally from Hitchcock that the film threatens to turn into High Anxiety 2 rather than an original work.
Without the chemistry between the leads we are left with little more than a hundred film school in-jokes and a strange sci-fi mystical story that we simply have no stake in.