"It wasn't me!"- Dave Ford (Matt Long)
Stars: Emmanuelle Chriqui, Matt Long
Other Stars: Luke Mably, Pell James, Joe Pantoliano, Ashley Scott, Timothy Bottoms, Jon Abrahams, Adrienne Barbeau, Meghan Markle
Director: Matthew Cole Weiss
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, language and some violence
Run Time: 01h:31m:51s
Release Date: 2007-11-13
Genre: suspense thriller
DVD ReviewI hate to dump on a young director like Matthew Cole Weiss simply for the sake of dumping, but the trite familiarity of Deceit and the way it is obnoxiously thumped around here like it's something bold and original is just tiring.
Here's yet another variant on the twisted and dangerous love triangle, a sluggish attempt at sexy noir-esque storytelling where the about-to-be-perfect life of our cleancut hero is dragged through hell by the wiles of a sultry kitten, littered as it is with red herrings and plot reveals that lack that the clever spark that I imagine was conceptually there when it was written. But we've seen things like this before, and the shock value is tempered by the fact that this is mostly paint-by-numbers filmmaking.
Pity poor Dave Ford (Matt Long), who has the understandable hots for flirty Emily (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who just happens to be the girlfriend of his best friend Brian (Luke Mably). A one-night dalliance rears its horny head a few years later, and Dave and Emily find themselves once again bumping uglies, which only leads to all kinds of pseudo-noir trouble. And that includes the fact that we see Emily brutally attacked by an unseen assailant during the opening credits—or that Dave is shown nursing a cocktail with a suspicious bloody wound—or that the police want to put Dave away for a long time, despite his pleas of innocence.
Emmanuelle Chriqui works it pretty hard, parading around in revealing clothes and some not-quite-nudity, and her teasing ways are meant to be the fleshy glue that really holds Deceit together, and she does so for the most part. Or at least, as much as she can as a one-dimensional sex kitten with a secret. Matt Long is likeable bland as the troubled lead, whose problems all stem from letting his little brain overrule his big brain, so I found it a little hard to care all that much what happened to him. Joe Pantoliano (one of the film's producers) shows up as a kindly bartender with sage advice, and Adrienne Barbeau has a glorified cameo, rolling in a wheelchair to help set up the film's leftfield payoff.
Films like Deceit fall under what I like to refer to as "resume builders". Weiss will probably use this for himself, perhaps as an experience-building stepping stone to get another project. Maybe. Maybe not. The whole thing is tacked together in predictable, seen-it-before swatches, with identifiably generic characters with little or no background, doing things we know they're going to do before they do it.
It's a film school project disguised as a feature, and that's only good for one person. The director.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Deceit comes from ThinkFilms in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is all over the place, ranging from extremely soft edges and blurry colors to fairly clean and crisp image quality (and that's not including the intentional stylized effects used here). An abundance of grain is another minor quibble, but it's really the variance in consistency that handcuffs this one.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: Audio choices are available in either 2.0 stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Much like the image transfer, the 5.1 mix is bit uneven, delivering a blend of sometimes clear, discernible voices which occasionally get buried by music cues. The stereo track provides a somewhat more reliable listening experience, and the measurable absence of some of the minor surround elements is hardly problematic.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bordertown, The Killing Floor, The Wendell Baker Story, The House Of Usher
Extras Review: Extras include a handful of trailers (including one for the feature) as well as a rather generic Behind The Scenes of Deceit (12m:32s) featurette. No big reveals from the director or the producers, yet from a strictly prurient level it includes an interview with Emmanuelle Chriqui. So there!
The disc is cut into 16 chapters, with optional subs in English or Spanish.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsA fairly uneventful and cornball whodunit benefits from the alluring vixen qualities of Emmanuelle Chriqui, but not much else. The machinations only serve to reveal some gaping logic holes, and that makes the whole thing seem even more unnecessary.
Rich Rosell 2008-05-30