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4.4 out of 5 stars81
4.4 out of 5 stars
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This glossy, stylish, and elegant remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film, "Dial M for Murder", forges its own identity, as it leaves behind the theatrical underpinnings of the original film. Screenwriter Patrick Smith Kelly offers up an intelligent, well written script with some surprising twist and turns. Beautifully directed by Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Under Siege, The Package), the film delicately weaves its ingenious plot.
Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) is a driven, wall street tycoon whose wife, Emily Bradford Taylor (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an heiress, fabulously wealthy in her own right. They live in a lavishly appointed apartment in Manhattan. The only fly in their ointment, or so it seems, is that Emily is having a love affair with a down and out artist, David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen).
It seems, however, that there is a dark side to the relationship between Steven and Emily, as Emily is decidedly unhappy with it. Moreover, unbeknownst to Emily, her artist boyfriend is not all that he appears to be nor is her husband, Steven, who is not as rich as he purports to be. Apparently, a series of bad investments have left him with margin calls that are set to leave him on the brink of bankruptcy. What's a guy to do?
Well, if you are like Steven Taylor, a ruthless, self-absorbed creep, you look to get your wife's money, at all costs. He knows about his wife's lover and will seek to use him, making David an offer he can't refuse. This decision sets in motion a cat and mouse game that leaves the viewer wondering, just who is the cat and who is the mouse? Who will live and who will die?
This is a solid thriller that will keep the viewer riveted to the screen. Excellent performances are given by all. Michael Douglas is excellent as Steven Taylor, a cool and collected ruthless character who has sacrificed his very humanity to greed, power, and conspicuous consumption. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. It is a role similar to that of Gordon Gekko, the character that Douglas played to critical acclaim in Oliver Stone's film, "Wall Street".
It is Gwyneth Paltrow's performance, however, that is the most notable. She infuses the role of Emily with a surprising strength and vulnerability, creating a sympathetic character. This is no easy task, considering that her character, a gloriously wealthy, gorgeous woman who is two-timing and deceiving her husband. Considering her husband, however, it is understandable. She does, however, seem to be looking for love in all the wrong places, as her lover has his own issues.
Viggo Mortensen gives an excellent performance as Emily's lover, David. It appears, however, that Emily may have picked a lover not all that different from her husband. Viggo Mortensen plays his part both hot and cold, as he is clearly conflicted by what Steven has asked him to do, despite the fact that it will give him what he originally set out to get. He manages, however, to turn the table on Steven, only to have Steven turn the table on him.
Sarita Choudhury gives a warm performance as Emily's friend, Raquel Martinez. David Suchet of Hercule Poirot fame effectively plays the part of the wily detective, Mohamed Karaman, who comes into the picture when Emily is almost murdered and is most sympathetic towards Emily.
All in all, this is a wonderful film that those who enjoy thrillers and murder mysteries will enjoy having in their personal collection. Bravo!
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on 6 September 2004
This is a good movie and well worth the watch. Michael Douglas plays a familiar role similar to his early 1987 Wall Street Gordon Geiko role but now much more sinister, and Gwyneth Paltrow plays his younger and slightly gullible trophy wife who is searching for happiness.
The movie tells how she is taken in by an artist, and how her husband Douglas reacts. His acting is good, but not up to the level of some of his earlier roles, which would be hard for him to match in every movie. Gwyneth is likeable and adds some zing.
I watched the movie because of Douglas, but as the movie progresses the center of attention seems to shift from Michael towards Gwyneth, a more recent Oscar winner, because of her believable acting and her sympathetic role. So even with the less than a great new role for Douglas, the movie is entertaining. It is definitely worth a watch, especially for Douglas fans, which includes myself plus I am now a budding Paltrow fan.
This is a minimalist movie, and although the credits (see the Amazon movie info above) lists many actors, there are really only four characters of note in the play, i.e.: the two stars both Oscar winners along with the artist and a police detective. It is the type of movie that lends itself to being just a short play since most of the action takes place in just two apartments. The movie is set in New York city, and the director manages to work in a few local attractions such as Penn Station, the Staten Island Ferry, some skyline, and some museums. But the New York scenes are just a bonus, like icing on a cake, and the movie really hangs on the stars and their interactions. It is a good drama with some surprising turns.
Highly recommend but just 4 stars.
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Stephen and Emily Taylor seem to have the perfect life of wealth, elegance and privilege -- until Stephen hires his wife's lover to murder her.

If that sounds slightly familiar, that's because it's similar to the plot of Alfred Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder," which "A Perfect Murder" is a loose rewritten adaptation of. Andrew Davis is no Alfred Hitchcock, but he does fill the polished movie with a sense of tense, unnerving fear, and he gets some amazing performances out of a strong quartet of actors.

Wealthy New York socialite Emily Taylor (Gwyneth Paltrow) is having a torrid fling with a handsome young artist, David (Viggo Mortensen). At the same time, her husband Stephen (Michael Douglas) is seeing his business investments collapse. Emily and David believe their affair is a secret, until Stephen contacts David and reveals that he know all about their affair, AND about David's secret past as a thief and conman.

He offers David $500,000 to murder Emily and make it look like a random robbery, and arranges an elaborate ploy involving the house-key. It seems like the perfect murder. But not only does Emily manage to stab her attacker to death, but he isn't David. It seems like a random break-in, but Detective Karaman (David Suchet) seems to be suspicious -- and Emily begins to suspect that her husband arranged the murder attempt.

Most of the plot is lifted (and then rewritten) from "Dial M For Murder," so sadly I cannot credit Andrew Davis with the tightly-wound mystery plot, and the subsequent tangle of suspicions, blackmail and evidence that Stephen can't explain away. The strong point of "A Perfect Murder" is the acting, which is pretty brilliant all across the board.

The most eye-catching performance is Michael Douglas'. Stephen is a charming, seemingly genial figure... until his mask slips, and we see the flinty, icy sociopath lurking inside his eyes. He starts to fray around the edges as his "perfect" plan starts falling apart, and he discovers the hard way that being rich and upper-crust won't make a criminal automatically fear you.

Which brings me to a pre-megafame Viggo Mortensen, who showed his quality by holding his own opposite Douglas. David is as coldly calculating as Stephen, and clever enough to throw the wealthier man's plans in total disarray -- all in a hunky, smirking shell. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the most sympathetic of the three, and this is probably the most powerful performance I've seen from her -- although her character is also pretty cruel, since she only feels bad about cheating on her husband when she's found out.

However, I'm not sure why Suchet is so peripheral -- in the scenes he's in, Karaman seems like he's going to be really important, as if he's going to be spearheading an investigation. But then he just sort of drifts out of the movie until Emily needs him. It's sad, because Suchet is absolutely amazing here.

While I can't credit Davis with credit for the twisty plot, I can credit him with drawing some nice suspense from the actors' performances. Despite some very 1990s cinematography, he lightly wraps the story with some tripwire tension, often by focusing on Douglas' face as he sees everything crumble around him. And while there's not much violence, what little there is is wild and frenetic.

"A Perfect Murder" is a twisting, tense little mystery that rests on a great bunch of performances, although I'm not entire sure why David Suchet was shoved off to the side. Watch it for Douglas and Mortensen if nothing else.
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on 16 April 2007
We soon establish that the "heroin" Gwyneth Paltrow (who is extremely rich and works for the United Nations) is having an affair with a young man (Vergo Mortenson) an up and coming artist. Her husband, Michael Douglas is a business man who by all accounts married her for her money. On the surface he is attentive and loving but her description of him to her friend Raquel is that he is manipulative. As the film unfolds we find out that he is in financial difficulties and has been a part of some unlawful dealings. He has discovered his wife's infidelity and constructs the opportunity to confront Mortenson and offer him a deal of 100,000$ to kill his wife, or he will tell her of Mortenson's lurid past, (swindling older women out of their money). Mortenson however, although at first shocked, fits in well with the deal and agrees to the murder. The plan is to go ahead the following night.

Things don't go entirely according to plan and Paltrow does not meet her demise. The film twists and turns to its final conclusion. David Suchet plays the detective with an interesting personality

The acting is exceptional with the 4 main actors working together well. The plot hints slightly of Dial M for Murder with the clue honing in on the door key to the apartment.

Well acted and highly enjoyable film.
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on 28 November 2005
This is the third time I've seen the film. Each time I've enjoyed it as much as the last. This time I rented it so that my husband could see it for the first time. He loved it too. You just don't know, right up until the last minute, how it's going to end.Michael Douglas is just as good as he was in Falling Down, The Game etc etc. Rent it!!
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I recently reviewed Michael Douglas in The Game which was part of an excellent box set Game The / Perfect Stranger / Identity (15) (NEW DVD).

There is no doubt that he can perform any acting role with great flair,humour,anguish or any other emotion called for by the director.

Here he is extremely believable once again playing the menacing husband to Gwyneth Paltrow's naive wife who is having an affair with struggling opportunist Viggo Mortensen.
Quite soon Douglas manipulates Mortensen into a plot to murder his rich but unfaithful wife.
But of course in true Hitchcockian style nothing goes quite to plan and director Andrew Davis formulates a terrific thriller that the master would be proud of.

After all this is a remake of Dial M for Murder [1954] [DVD],regarded as one of Alfred Hitchcocks many classics.

Well worth a watch and an excellent addition to anybodys thriller collection.
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on 5 March 2014
Millionaire industrialist Steven Taylor is a man who has everything but what he craves most is the love and fidelity of his wife.

A hugely successful player in the New York financial world, he considers her to be his most treasured acquisition.

But she needs more than simply the role of dazzling accessory.

Brilliant in her own right, she works at the U.N. and is involved with a struggling artist who fulfils her emotional needs.

When her husband discovers her infidelity, he sets out to commit murder and inherit her considerable trust fund in the bargain.

Back in the nineties, even though he is arguably brilliant, with the exception of Falling down, Douglas played the same character in every film he made.

It's not a bad thing, but this movie should have simply been Wall Street 2, and Gekko has escaped from prison and wants his wife's money, wouldn't have been a remake to the Hitchcock classic and would have made more money.

For what it's worth, it's still one of those glossy thrillers that were rife in the cinemas in the late nineties, all about money and power.

Paltrow and Mortenson are very good, but what this film does ask, is who are 'you' rooting for? At times I must admit it was Douglas, because Paltrows character was introduced in the worse way possible, but then Douglas became more and more pantomime villain up until the predictable climax.

The film isn't nothing special, Douglas owns the film as usual, and it's very flashy, and very expensive, but forgettable.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 September 2013
There have been a quite few patchy modern updates of Hitchcock classics over the years, luckily 'A Perfect Murder' is not one of them. Based on Hitchcock's 'Dial M For Murder', this 1998 thriller boasts an impressive cast and is directed by Andrew Davis ('Under Siege', 'The Fugitive' and 'Chain Reaction').

To the outside world, slimy businessman Steven (Michael Douglas) and his beautiful, much younger wife Emily (Gwenyth Paltrow) seem to be like the perfect married couple. However, Emily embarks on an affair with a handsome young painter called David (played by Viggo Mortensen). Emily intends to tell Steven of her infidelities and that she is going to leave him, but what she doesn't know is Steven is already aware of the affair and Mortensen's motives aren't based on love. Steven has a plan, and that plan is to murder his own wife, with more than a little help from her lover.

I LOVE this film. Very few thrillers can grab my attention for the full two hours like this one did. The acting is first class (a special mention must go to David Suchet, a fine actor and is obviously (as he is perhaps best known for playing Poirot) at home as the suspicious detective, and the many twists and turns throughout the story run at a good pace. I can't help feeling a little sorry for Michael Douglas' character though, cheating is wrong, and a reason to want to seek revenge, but is hardly the excuse for murder (which should never be the reason for anything) of course.

I think 'A Perfect Murder' is a first rate thriller and should please fans of Hitchcock movies. It's a compelling movie and will keep you engrossed until the end. Highly recommended!
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on 29 April 2012
As with all of Michael Douglas's films this one is brilliant and terrificly acted. Douglas plays a wealthy but financially in trouble banker who is married, though not happily, to a beautiful woman (Gwyneth Paltrow). Right from the off, Douglas shows off his considerable acting skill and his performance is both subtle and creepy. Paltrow is equally as good and Viggo Mortensen, though not given that much to do, leaves behind his sword and chainmail from Lord of the Rings and puts in a decent turn as Paltrows lover, hired to kill her by Douglas. The plot is relatively twisty but not enough so, i was waiting for a twist or turn at the end but it went a little too much in the direction i was expecting to recieve a five star rating. That said this film is slickly directed and the tension between the characters plays out brilliantly, as does the jumpy, elegant score and the supporting cast, including David Suchet as a suspicious cop.
Overall, this film is fast paced, slickly directed and Douglas delivers a top performance as usual. If you want a couple of hours of tense entertainment then look no further.
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on 26 February 2005
Thoroughly absorbing thriller, with Michael Douglas at his ruthless, sharp suited (a la "Wall Street") futures broker best and well matched by Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife. Slickly directed and compelling to the end.
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