Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Identity - film review

Identity is a film made in 2003, a psychological thriller that owes something (just like Jack Reacher!) to a plot associated with Agatha Christie. Yet, again like Jack Reacher, it stands on its own two feet - and very well, actually. I must admit that I saw it some years ago and was not overly impressed, but I think I saw it on a bad day. A second viewing made it clear that it's a very clever movie.

It opens with that excellent actor Alfred Molina as a shrink talking to a patient who is accused of being a serial killer. New evidence has come to light, and there's a last minute hearing to see if the chap can escape the death penalty. Is he mad rather than bad? Before we can begin to answer the question, the action switches to a remote motel in a ferocious downpour.

Ten people come to the motel - and one by one, they start to be killed (does this sound familiar, Christie fans?) A motel room key is found by each corpse. What on earth is going on? The group is a mixed bunch - a prostitute, a police officer, the dodgy motel keeper, a young boy and his parents, and so on. But can anyone be trusted? Are they all what they seem? Twist follows twist, in  a very satisfying way.

The excellent cast includes Ray Liotta, John Cusack and Rebecca de Mornay. I really can't think why I didn't care for this one first time round - I now think it's one of the most entertaining American thrillers of the present century. Not at all easy to guess what's going on, and all the more satisfying because of it. Recommended - and certainly not just for Christie fans.


1 comment:

Colin Greenland said...

Your review really piqued my interest, Martin, so I went on to read more about the film online – quite a bit more before faint bells started to ring. Then my wife, who has the memory in this household, confirmed we'd seen and enjoyed it.

I quickly found a DVD on eBay, and bought it, and we watched it again, with much pleasure, so thank you for that. Today, without really meaning to, I've watched it through twice more to take in James Mangold’s director's commentary, which is a good one, and the – separate and unusual, I believe – writer's commentary, by Michael Cooney, which gives a remarkable sense of how the film grew from page to screen.

It's an intriguing movie, well worth so much attention. Perhaps no team could never have completely achieved all the ambitions of its original concept, but the clever Mr Mangold and his brilliant cast really make the most of it.