Trimark is going through the motions with a regional theatrical release for this lackluster thriller, but “Separate Lives” obviously is destined for a quick fade into homevid obscurity.
Top-billed James Belushi and Linda Hamilton (reunited for the first time since 1990’s “Mr. Destiny”) are main attractions in a thinly plotted and tiresomely formulaic drama about murder, repressed memory and split personalities.
Hamilton plays Lauren Porter, a demure psychology professor who occasionally turns into Lena, her promiscuous, sexy alter ego.
Fearing she may have killed someone during one of her split-personality perambulations, she seeks help from Tom Beckwith (Belushi), an ex-cop turned psych student.
The key to the mystery is a long-ago murder-suicide that maybe didn’t involve suicide after all. Lauren was severely traumatized by the event as a child, and doesn’t remember that she actually witnessed a double murder. This is supposed to explain her periodic walks on the wild side as Lena. Considering how long it takes for Lauren and Tom to figure this out, it’s clear that, when it comes to psychology, she isn’t a very good professor, and he is an even worse student.
Despite Hamilton’s raunchy talk and revealing outfits as Lena, there is very little overt sexiness in “Separate Lives,” and even less chemistry between the two leads.
Belushi works hard at fleshing out his character, and appears fully prepared to plumb the ex-cop’s darker depths. Tom’s disturbed wife committed suicide years earlier, and his attraction to Lauren indicates he may have some kind of erotic obsession with vulnerable, psychologically fragile women.
But neither screenwriter Steven Pressfield nor director David Madden are willing, or able, to develop this potentially interesting angle.
“Separate Lives” is strictly by-the-numbers stuff, slackly paced and drably produced. Tech values, including Kees Van Oostrum’s overlit cinematography, are no better than they have to be.