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Customer Review

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2011
During an argument Bea Harper {Geraldine Brooks} strikes out at her unsavoury lover, Ted Darby {Shepperd Strudwick}, felling him with a blow that sends him tumbling to an accidental death. When her mother Lucia {Joan Bennett} finds the body she quickly hides the body out at sea to hopefully make things look better. But soon the menacing Martin Donnelly {James Mason} turns up with love letters that Bea had sent Ted and sets about blackmailing Lucia. But all is not going to be straight forward as Martin & Lucia are strangely drawn to each other.

The Reckless Moment is directed by Max Ophüls, it's adapted from a shorty story titled "The Blank Wall" and cinematography comes from Burnett Guffey. A tight enough picture technically, it is however something of let down considering the plot involves blackmail, murder, deception and sacrifice. Highly regarded by some notable critics, the film's strength, outside of the two excellent lead performances, comes by way of its flip-flop of the sexes plot. Reversing the roles of an innocent involved with a shady good for nothing gives the film a unique feel, but it also makes the film play as a melodrama as opposed to being a darkly noirish potboiler. Add in to the mix that Ophüls is content to go for emotion over criminal drama and it's an uneasy sit all told.

Where Ophüls does very well is with the distinction between Lucia's two differing worlds. She's from comfortable suburbia in Balboa, the epitome of contented respectability. But as she arrives in L.A. and does her "reckless moment," the landscape and tone changes. She herself significantly wears sunglasses at key moments and Messrs Ophüls & Guffey bring on the shadows and swirling cameras to portray the feeling of entrapment for our protagonists as they get deeper into it. The key scenes revolve around the Harper boathouse and the guys get maximum impact from this darkly lit venue. There's also some suggestion of manipulation that offers an intriguing train of thought, while the final shot begs to be given far more dissection than just seen as being a standard film closer.

Visually smart and acted accordingly, but not to my mind the nerve frayer that others have painted it as. 6/10
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