The Austin Chronicle

Under Suspicion

Rated R, 99 min. Directed by Simon Moore. Starring Liam Neeson, Laura San Giacomo, Kenneth Cranham.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., July 31, 1992

This English film calls itself film noir but the filmmakers seem to have missed some of the basics. Oh, it starts out alright. It's set in Brighton in the Fifties when the laws were so strict that unhappy husbands arranged to get caught in “adulterous” situations to more easily get a divorce. The sad-eyed Neeson plays a sleazy private detective, an ex-cop, who arranges illegal set-ups using his wife. But one weekend everything goes terribly wrong when he bursts into the room, camera held high to catch the guilty couple and instead, photographs a gory death scene starring his wife and his client, a famous painter. Neeson's sordid past is well known to the police: caught in flagrante delicto by a cuckolded husband, Neeson caused the death of another cop and wound up marrying the woman in question. Now that woman from the past is dead and the cops have their sitting duck. Up to here, I really have little quarrel with Under Suspicion's claim to noir status. It's just that as Neeson is arrested for the murder of his wife and the artist and as he begins his own investigation which leads him under the sheets with the painter's mistress San Giacomo, so many twists and turns crop up as to make the concept of who done it completely ludicrous. What we want is a nice taut thriller, but what we've veered into is something much more reminiscent of a drawing room mystery, the very thing noir is a reaction against. By the end of the film we've descended so far into utter goofiness, that even Neeson and San Giacomo seem confused. I swear to god that there is a scene in which one character whispers the explanation for it all into the ear of the other. Has to, it's just too damn nuts to say out loud with a straight face.

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