Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Although it was a box office flop, the 1991 movie Deceived is okay entertainment, made watchable above all by the performance of Goldie Hawn as a woman whose perfect life disintegrates when she starts to suspect that husband Jack is not all he seems. Attractive as she is, I’ve never been a huge Hawn fan, and I associate her mainly with comedy roles, but here she plays the woman-in-jeopardy very well.

The screenplay is a mixed bag. After a slow start, establishing Hawn’s apparently blissful life – successful in her art restoration business, good-looking husband, cute daughter, obliging nanny, pet cat - the twists are soon coming thick and fast. A weakness is over-reliance on rather tired plot devices – the cat is there to create a few artificially spooky moments, the nanny finishes up in the wrong place at the wrong time, the little girl inevitably becomes a kidnap victim – but following the death of one of Jack’s colleagues, the tension does mount.

Jack’s car is involved in a fatal crash and Hawn’s persistent detective efforts succeed in uncovering secrets of the past. There is a scene involving college year books that reminded me of a truly brilliant crime film, Body Heat, and it has to be said that, overall, Deceived lacks genuine originality. Nor was I absolutely clear about the motivation of the villain of the piece. The closest we get to an explanation is that he always does ‘what comes next’ – not the greatest insight into character one might hope for. The subject of living a lie offers wonderful opportunities for a crime writer. Workmanlike as this movie is, it really does not make the most of them.

But if you have a couple of hours to spare, Deceived is a relaxing and undemanding way to pass the time. Just don’t expect something in the Hitchcock class.

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