Psychotic neighbors are the latest riff on the urban paranoia theme. Most distinctive element here proves to be Kevin Spacey's over-the-top performance as the smarmy newcomer to the block, who ultimately lures his risk-aversive neighbor (Kevin Kline) into a proposed wife-swap that leads to the baseball-bat murder of Spacey's wife (Rebecca Miller) as part of an elaborate insurance scam.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Psychotic neighbors are the latest riff on the urban paranoia theme. Most distinctive element here proves to be Kevin Spacey’s over-the-top performance as the smarmy newcomer to the block, who ultimately lures his risk-aversive neighbor (Kevin Kline) into a proposed wife-swap that leads to the baseball-bat murder of Spacey’s wife (Rebecca Miller) as part of an elaborate insurance scam.
Kline’s character ends up framed for the murder, forcing him to try to decipher the mystery and win back his own wife (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who has conveniently and rather inexplicably fled to Spacey.
Pic suffers from an absurdity level that somewhat undermines its chills as well as its few geniune laughs. Director Alan J. Pakula can’t seem to decide whether this is a legitimate drama or conventional thriller – of the cheap scare variety.
Perhaps because of those narrative flaws, neither Kline nor Mastrantonio (reunited after The January Man) are particularly distinguished here.
Miller oozes sex appeal, but the real stand-out is Spacey, who established his inordinate skill playing psychopaths with a disarming sense of humor back during TV’s Wiseguy.
Hollywood Pictures. Director Alan J. Pakula; Producer Alan J. Pakula, David Permut; Screenplay Matthew Chapman; Camera Stephen Goldblatt; Editor Sam O'Steen; Music Michael Small;; Art Director Carol Spier
(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1992. Running time: 100 MIN.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Popular on Variety
Mahershala Ali on Fighting for a Black Lead on 'True Detective'
Timothee Chalamet, Emma Stone on Being Rejected by Tim Burton
Timothee Chalamet Wept the First Time He Watched Himself on 'Interstellar'
Why 'Shallow' Is One of the Most 'Authentic' Songs Lady Gaga Has Ever Written
Lady Gaga on Broadway, Auditioning for 'Rent'
Why 'Black Panther' Had a 'Cathartic' Effect on Charlize Theron
Michael B. Jordan Reflects on the Cultural Impact of 'Black Panther': 'It Gave Everybody a Sense of Pride'
'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Cast on 'Lowering Expectations' for Season 2
Why Adam Levine Thought It Was 'Important' to Include Cardi B on 'Girls Like You'
Nicole Kidman on Working With Meryl Streep on 'Big Little Lies': 'She Is the Queen'
The final days of filming writer-director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” were dedicated to moments that foreshadowed its entire plot: Having run into the recently incarcerated Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) on the streets of Harlem, the struggling artist Fonny (Stephan James) invites his friend back to his apartment for [...]
“Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]
Czech indie producer director Vaclav Marhoul says he knew from the moment he got his hands on Jerzy Kosinski’s Holocaust novel “The Painted Bird” that he had to adapt it for the screen. Finding the book at all in Central Europe was not easy even a decade ago, when Marhoul took up the challenge of [...]
Variety will honor director Ryan Coogler at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Jan. 4th as part of the annual 10 Directors to Watch Brunch at the Parker Palm Springs. The brunch is presented by AT&T. The “Black Panther” director will receive the annual creative impact in directing award. Previous recipients of this award [...]
They may be triumphs of filmmaking, but 2018’s crop of awards season contenders have been a mixed bag when it comes to box office returns. Sadly, that’s become something of a tradition — as much a staple of the Oscar race as Peggy Siegal luncheons or Meryl Streep. Last year’s best picture nominees had the [...]
BUENOS AIRES — 11 takes on the biggest Ventana Sur yet, in initiatives and initial business announcements: 1.CANNES’ MOST DARING MOVE? Over the last decade, film festivals two biggest growth roadmaps have run through strengthening their industry heft, aiding an ever more challenged independent film business, and to morph into all-year-round structures. The Cannes Festival [...]
In the 1970s, Studio 54 was the epicenter of New York nightlife. With wildly theatrical sets, a guest list of celebs, and jet-setters that included everyone from Andy Warhol to Grace Jones, and a pulsating disco beat, the nightclub helped define the Me Decade. But its reign was short lived. In 1980, founders Steve Rubell [...]