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R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 06/04/1998,

A Perfect Murder

In this sort-of remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, Michael Douglas rekindles his Wall Street salad days as a controlling financier with Gwyneth Paltrow hanging on his arm as his adored trophy wife. All's not well in their cosmopolitan paradise, of course: Paltrow is carrying on a steamy affair with a buff young artist (Viggo Mortensen). So Douglas confronts Mortensen with details of his sordid past and together the two money grubbers hatch the "perfect" plan to off Paltrow. Needless to say the murder gets botched and Paltrow wanders through the rest of the film a doe-eyed victim uncovering the web of deceit as she searches for the truth.

Director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Under Siege) puts in a yeomanlike effort to keep the tension high, but the script, which does have a few admirable twists, runs out of steam before limping to its mundane resolution. And Paltrow -- looking sexy/cute in a Bridget Fonda sort of way -- struggles to engage her formal thespian skills in a film that requires nothing more than posture and attitude. Beyond her flawlessly applied lipstick, there's little that's perfect in this cat-and-mouse manipulator. At the Cheri, the Fresh Pond, and the Chestnut Hill and in the suburbs.

-- Tom Meek