Heidi Thomas has written a zinger of a tense English thriller about an undercover cop who, having just dropped a colleague she loved, has now perhaps fallen for a man who may be a killer. With a superb cast persuasively directed by David Richards, “Kiss and Tell” is top-form British mystery-making.
Jude (Rosie Rowell), breaking up with still-in-love police detective Matt Kearney (Daniel Craig), is assigned a tough case in which she’s to find out where suspect salesman Graham Ives (Peter Howitt) may have stashed away his wife’s body — if she can prove he killed her.
Graham seems to be Mr. Domestic, a traveling salesman whose depressed wife, Barbara (Gillian Bevan), has disappeared after they quarreled within hearing of his 12-year-old asthmatic son, James (Danny Worters). Seems she ran away previously for almost a year; the police want to know what’s happened to her this time.
Jude, answering Graham’s message in a lovelorn column, has soon established a casual relationship — with promise. He seems a stable type, heavyset and lonely, and she presents herself as being too much without a family. Son James likes her all right, and everything seems cozy.
But there are questions to be answered. Why did Barbara have a butcher knife in her undies drawer? If Graham didn’t murder her, where’s she hiding? And why? And there are smaller mysteries among the principal characters that unfold naturally and sensibly in writer Thomas’ intricate, multilayered meller.
There’s far more to the case than cat-and-mouse stuff. Matt starts tuning in on wired Jude’s conversations with amiable Graham. How much does she mean when she flatters Graham, and how serious are Graham’s hesitant suggestions? An odd threesome develops as Matt stalks Graham and Jude begins considering Graham. Or is she?
Rowell’s sure study of Jude is appropriately aloof. Craig’s tortured Matt enriches the vidpic, and Hilda Braid, as Graham’s neighbor, is fine.
But it’s Howitt’s complex study of Graham that leads the way. Howitt manages to make him always seem, though vulnerable, in command. It’s a rich characterization.
Alan Almond’s sharp camerawork and Nick McPhee’s immaculate editing give the telepic its clean, accessible look, and Cecilia Brerton’s smart production design is commendable. Hal Lindes’ discreet score handsomely serves the engrossing drama.
Don’t bet on anyone in this horse race.