Corby assumes Mitchell Kimmel is an early 1960s Scott Peterson and he is
probably right. He also assumes the same thing about Walter Stackhouse, but the
mystery-writing architect is more of a Walter Mitty than a Bluebeard.
Unfortunately, he will make every possible mistake to attract suspicion in Andy
Goddard’s A Kind of Murder, which screens during the
2016 Tribeca Film Festival.
is indeed the title character of Patricia Highsmith’s The Blunderer. He ought to know better, since he has just had his
second crime story published in a magazine—not that his wife Clara cares. Constantly
scoldy but also prone to jealous delusions, she is difficult to live with. Poor
Stackhouse dutifully intervenes during her latest suicide attempt, but he is
not so sure he will do so the next time, especially after he meets the pretty
and emotionally stable Ellie Briess.
professional and perhaps also personal reasons, Stackhouse develops a
fascination with the murder of Kimmel’s wife. It seems entirely possible the
sleazy independent bookstore owner faked an alibi, in order to murder the woman
during her intercity bus’s layover at a rest stop. He even ventures out to
Kimmel’s store, but finds the proprietor rather unsavory. Acting on impulse,
Stackhouse similarly stalks his own wife while she is on the same bus, but she
rather inconveniently throws herself off a bridge before he can find her. At
least, that is Stackhouse’s story, but the way he parses it out in piecemeal
fashion will cast him in a decidedly guilty light.
A Kind of Murder is a blandly prosaic title
compared to The Blunderer, but the
film itself is wonderfully stylish Hitchcockian take on the early Mad Men era. Patrick Wilson is actually
quite a good fit for the guilt-ridden and morally compromised Walter
Stackhouse, while Jessica Biel makes an appropriately hot mess as the high-strung
Clara Stackhouse. However, Eddie Marsan steals the show as the sociopathic
Kimmel, which probably shouldn’t surprise anyone. Unfortunately, Vincent
Kartheiser lacks the presence and heft to give Det. Corby any sense of menace.
He is more like a Colombo who thinks he is a Dirty Harry.
Pete Zumba, costume designer Sarah Mae Burton, and the entire design team have
crafted a wonderfully inviting period production, which cinematographer Chris
Seager gives an uber-noir sheen. It is just a pleasure for genre fans to dive
into this stylized New York that probably never really was. Goddard keeps the
elements working in concert, fully capitalizing on the rich bourgeoisie
trappings and Highsmith’s subversive motifs. Recommended with enthusiasm for
thriller fans, A Kind of Murder screens
again tonight (4/19) and Thursday (4/21), as part of this year’s Tribeca.
Labels: Eddie Marsan, Jessica Biel, Patricia Highsmith, Tribeca '16