Wednesday 22 April 2015

Movie Review: Deceived (1991)

A blundering thriller with a few tense moments thrown in, Deceived relies exclusively on plot holes and general stupidity to build its narrative, and is quickly sucked into the vortex of the forgettable.

In New York City, Adrienne (Goldie Hawn) is an art restoration specialist. She meets and falls in love with art dealer Jack Saunders (John Heard). They get married, have a child and seem to have the perfect life. Then Jack reveals that he is under suspicion at work for stealing a precious necklace. One of his colleagues is found dead, and Adrienne starts noticing Jack's weird behaviour, including potentially lying about a business trip to Boston.

When she confronts him, Jack abruptly leaves the house, and word soon arrives that he was killed in a car crash. Through school records and by tracking down family friends and relatives, Adrienne starts to delve into the history of the man who was her husband, only to discover that the man she married was an impostor, and not called Jack at all. He was Frank Sullivan, a lonesome boy who was raised by an unloving mother (Beatrice Straight). Adrienne soon realizes that not only was her entire marriage a sham, but she is in mortal danger because the precious necklace has gone missing and there is a killer on the loose who thinks she has it.

Directed by Damian (son of Richard) Harris, Deceived would give made-for-TV movies a bad name had it been made for TV. The attempt to place Goldie Hawn in a serious film backfires spectacularly, although through no fault of her own, as she is serviceable as a damsel in distress. The problem lies within a pretty awful screenplay by Mary Agnes Donoghue and Bruce Joel Rubin, who can both do better, but maybe not in this genre. If there ever was the germ of a good idea here, it was eradicated by the sloppy, insulting script.

Deceived is the kind of thriller that relies on everyone being fairly imbecilic in order to move its plot forward. This is a film in which the police do not bother with fundamentals such as checking the identity of a crash victim. The tax authorities somehow do not notice that a dead man has been paying taxes for years. The murder of a respected art curator does not appear to ever be investigated. A smart wife who seriously suspects her husband of lying about traveling accepts his lame explanations and fails to request simple proof, such as an airline ticket or a hotel receipt.

The incredible lapses and ridiculous actions continue. A major expensive artifact coincidentally falls to the ground unnoticed, then is mistakenly placed in a basket of trinkets, and then casually walks out of the house around the neck of a child, with no one the wiser. Meanwhile, Adrienne, seeking a simple phone, has to wander through countless museum hallways and spooky backrooms where she will conveniently stumble onto a dead body.

The film ends with an interminable chase through a building under construction, and a character stepping into the void, a case of plot holes and literal holes finally overlapping to end the agony.

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