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Reflections on a Crime

A full-bore star turn by Mimi Rogers, playing a glamorous killer about to take the chair, is the main selling point for this slickly made, intellectually empty character study. Sharp style on a mini-budget and uncompromising seriousness lend some distinction to Jon Purdy's first feature. Fests might take note, but pic's cloistered, two-character-play nature and self-importance make this a tough prospect theatrically.

With:
Regina ... Mimi Rogers Colin ... Billy Zane James ... John Terry Howard ... Kurt Fuller Tina ... Lee Garlington Ellen ... Nancy Fish Doctor ... Frank Birney Attorney ... Adrienne Regard Daniel ... Alain Ohanian Haircutter ... Ina Parker

A full-bore star turn by Mimi Rogers, playing a glamorous killer about to take the chair, is the main selling point for this slickly made, intellectually empty character study. Sharp style on a mini-budget and uncompromising seriousness lend some distinction to Jon Purdy’s first feature. Fests might take note, but pic’s cloistered, two-character-play nature and self-importance make this a tough prospect theatrically.

College-thesis title is the first tip-off to pretensions far outstripping by-the-numbers dialogue and telepic plotting. Rogers, who won an audience award in Seattle for her work here, toplines as Regina, convicted of killing her pompous husband because “divorce would have broken his heart.” From this flimsy bit of moral ambiguity, writer/helmer Purdy fashions a claustrophobic, execution-eve faceoff between Rogers and young “media junky” guard Colin (Billy Zane), who has bribed his way into her holding cell.

Rogers then spins her tale of the events leading up to the fatal encounter, some repeated from every angle, with the only twist that hubby is dispatched by different means each time.

That sounds intriguing on paper, but Purdy’s leaden hand guarantees hard labor for all involved. Problems begin with the casting of John Terry as the rich, overbearing spouse: His thesping is so soapy that the many marital-banter scenes veer dangerously close to “SCTV”-type parody.

Although “Reflections” boasts plenty of women behind the camera, the man in charge is more than capable of decimating any claim the pic makes for probing female psychology. B-meister Roger Corman exec produced, and the gratuitous ogling of Rogers’ body (or her body double) is certainly more Russ Meyer than Chantal Akerman. The upscale effects of Teresa Medina’s stylish lensing and Denna Appel’s smooth clothing (some people would kill for Rogers’ prison garb) serve only to undercut Purdy’s serious intent.

Even the tough-talking lead can’t resist hyping her part for relentless meller effect, although Rogers’ character’s resolute acceptance of responsibility for her deed and fate is refreshing, even bracing. Zane’s steady restraint, while generous, sometimes leaves her hanging with too much ham on display.

Reflections on a Crime

Production: A Roger Corman presentation of a Concorde Films/Saban Pictures production in association with Forrester Films. (International sales: Saban Pictures, L.A.) Produced by Gwen Field, Barbara Klein, Carol Dunn Trussel, Alida Camp. Executive producers, Corman, Lance H. Robbins, Mike Elliott. Directed, written by Jon Purdy.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Teresa Medina; editor, Norman Buckley; music, Parmer Fuller; production design, Arlan Jay Vetter; art direction, Roger Belk; costume design, Denna Appel; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Christopher Taylor; associate producer/casting, Billy DaMota; assistant director, Marco Black. Reviewed at Seattle Intl. Film Festival, June 10, 1994. Running time:96 MIN.

With: Regina ... Mimi Rogers Colin ... Billy Zane James ... John Terry Howard ... Kurt Fuller Tina ... Lee Garlington Ellen ... Nancy Fish Doctor ... Frank Birney Attorney ... Adrienne Regard Daniel ... Alain Ohanian Haircutter ... Ina Parker

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