Under Suspicion (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Under Suspicion was produced as a labor or love by Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, both of whom also co-starred in the film.

It is a tightly-contained psychological drama, essentially four characters in one room, like a stage play. It is about a police captain who interrogates the wealthiest man in Puerto Rico, his former friend, about the rape/murders of two very young girls, crimes which the rich man may or may not have committed.

The other two characters are an unsophisticated younger policeman and the rich man's trophy wife.

First we think the accused probably did it because he is lying about everything, then we think he could not have committed the crimes. Then we are convinced he did do them. But nothing is ever what it appears to be as the questioning strips away all the layers of the mystery.

This is a remake of Claude Miller's 1981 French film, Garde a vue, which starred Romy Schneider as the rich man's trophy wife (Monica Bellucci in the new version).

I think the director and the actors did a fine job at maintaining the tension in what could have been a really chatty and static two hours.


Monica Bellucci has a nude scen in the first couple minutes of the film, then nothing else. We see one breast in close-up, and we see the top of her buttocks as she dresses for the evening.
The script is good, and the basic storyline is good, but you still have to be damned good to hold the popcorn audiences in one room for two hours while two old farts rehash the circumstances of some murders, and turn suspicion back and forth.

I think that you already know whether you would like it or not. Most of you will think it is too actionless to spend time on, but if you like the basic premise, and you like the psychological interface of good live theater, Hackman and Freeman are a couple of masters at work. I liked it. I like the kind of film where you have to pay attention to every little detail, lest you miss something, so I never reached for the fast forward because I wanted to see if I could figure it out.

I have not seen the French original, but I suspect that I can make the same statement about both. The actual mystery seems to drive the film, but it does not. The real puzzle is to figure out why the people do and say what they do, not whether Hackman committed the crimes.

DVD info from Amazon.

It's a good widescreen transfer. The only significant feature is a brief "making of" documentary. The remainder of the DVD is the usual trailer and cheesy bios.

SPOILER AHEAD - skip if you want to see it

I did manage to figure it out, and I knew that Hackman's ultimate confession was false, but I didn't understand why he was confessing. I'm still not 100% sure I know why, to tell you the truth, but I consider the fact that I was allowed to solve the puzzle along with the detectives a plus, not a minus. My own personal peeve occurs in the opposite case - when the solution involves something not mentioned at all in the exposition, and the viewer must be surprised because he could not have known about it. To me, that's cheap sensationalism, whereas this one was logical exposition and a solid script.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: not rated by any of our usual panel.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary for Under Suspicion. IMDb voters score it 6.1.
  • IMDB summary for Garde a vue, the French original, rated 7.7
  • With their dollars ... it did okay. $17 million domestic gross on about 900 screens. With foreign, rentals, and other rights, it will make money.
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. It is not good enough to change your mind about whatever preconceptions you may have about talky stage plays on film, but it is a very slickly produced and professionally acted play, and you'll love it if you like the idea.

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