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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Under Suspicion (1991) (1991)

"I can't believe you're cross-examining me while we're making love."
- Angeline (Laura San Giacomo)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: October 06, 2003

Stars: Liam Neeson, Laura San Giacomo
Other Stars: Kenneth Cranham
Director: Simon Moore

MPAA Rating: R for areas of strong violence and sensuality, and for violence (yes, the MPAA has "violence" twice here)
Run Time: 01h:39m:51s
Release Date: September 02, 2003
UPC: 043396056138
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+C+B- D

DVD Review

You've got to give the filmmakers credit for trying, but there's just not a whole lot of plausible dramatic tension in Under Suspicion, and it's not made with much verve or style—take out a few profanities and modestly shot sex scenes, and what you've got here is a pretty run-of-the-mill movie of the week. Still, the actors are game, and it's not an entirely bad idea for a movie.

We're in Brighton, England, 1959, and the British divorce laws are cumbersome and archaic—the courts will only grant a divorce if one of the parties can provide evidence of infidelity. So Tony Aaron (Liam Neeson), disgraced former police officer turned private investigator, fills a niche—hire him, and he'll arrange for a photograph of you, in flagrante delicto, that you can present to His Honor, who will then free you of the old ball and chain. And it's a family affair, for Tony is all too happy to use his pretty wife as the other woman. (Yeah, basically he's just a step above pimping the missus.) Tony's got a shady past—he was run off the force for causing the death of another police officer, principally because Tony couldn't keep it in his pants, and now he owes money all over town.

But things get worse. A lot worse, in fact—Tony shows up at the local hotel, camera in hand, prepared to barge in on his wife and his client, and instead of finding just some rumpled sheets, he sees instead the remains of a brutal double homicide. Someone has come into the hotel room, and blown off the heads of Tony's wife and the prospective divorcé. Worse still, the client was no ordinary John Doe, but a prominent artist, so this double murder is the stuff of tabloid headlines.

The great painter has ditched his wife for a pretty young American thing called Angeline, played by Laura San Giacomo, who nearly comes to blows with the widow. As they usually do, the disgraced cop and the brazen woman start a tempestuous affair, as they, together and separately, try to puzzle out who has committed this dastardly crime.

The divorce stuff could be a great premise for a movie, but there's not a whole lot to this one, and there are a bunch of problems in the story's set-up. For one thing, there's a brief prologue, which takes place two years earlier, featuring a naked Neeson scaling a fence; it just takes too damn long to get the plot up and running. For another, there are two dead people, and neither we nor the surviving characters care much about either of them. It all feels rather mechanical. Neeson brings a certain panache to the role, but really, the most memorable thing about his performance is the gorgeous shearling coat he wears. And San Giacomo never really made good on the promise of sex, lies and videotape—here she's consciously done up as a femme fatale, reminiscent particularly of Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep. But San Giacomo doesn't have the style to carry it off, and she seems to be a relatively short woman; not that I'm a heightist, but the costumes don't do her any favors, and frequently she looks like a little girl who got into mommy's closet.

The film features one of the very silliest and stupidly improbable story climaxes you'll ever see; it's never awful, and bits of it are actually rather entertaining, but it's not the rip-snorting journey you might hope it would be. When "never awful" is the best you can say about a movie, well, that's faint praise indeed.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The film is shot in an extra-wide format, but the compositional elements don't really take advantage of that—most of the movie is shot in close-ups, with lots of blank space on either side of the actors' heads. There's a good amount of debris, flecks and scratches in the transfer, and the colors are dull, sometimes almost gooey.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Pretty good, clean audio transfer, though the musical score is just ghastly—it telegraphs a number of important story points, and is way too loud.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Double Vision, Enough, Identity
Packaging: AGI Media Packaging
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Only chapter stops, subtitles, and a quartet of trailers.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

A competent, workmanlike thriller, but that's about all. A few flashes of visual interest and a nice pair of lead actors can't raise this above the ordinary.


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