Magnolia Home Entertainment has released Andy Goddard’s film A Kind of Murder on Blu-ray. This 2016 film stars Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Haley Bennett, Vincent Kartheiser, and Eddie Marsan.
In 1960s New York, Walter Stackhouse (Patrick Wilson) is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara (Jessica Biel) who leads a seemingly perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer and an overambitious detective, while at the same time lusting after another woman.
The film claims that it was “written” but as a Film Noir fan I noticed that all they did was make a cliff notes on great films and tried to scotch tape different scenes together. The movie is set up to be a whodunit, but within the first couple minutes they telegraph exactly who the killer is and there never is a twist to that assumption. The characters don’t even have enough dimensions to be called one dimensional. The ending is straight ripped off from the great masterwork The Third Man and that in and of itself would incense any fan of cinema.
You have all the tropes and cliches from Film Noir here: The attractive wife who has pill problems and goes crazy, the songstress who keeps the men out late at night, the man who seems to be wrongfully accused but keeps getting caught lying, the cop that will stop at nothing to catch the criminal, and the shifty eyed murderer. The problem with this film is that is the extent of the plot and character. Literally nothing else happens for the next 90 minutes. Every time a character is introduced you know exactly what they are and who they are. This could have been a 15 minute short and still have been too long for the material.
The dialogue is very forgettable and plain. There was not quick witted responses. No femme fatale to cheer for. No hard nosed gritty actors. Everyone was just a bit too pretty, a bit too fake. No one seemed much like a real person or even a concept of a person. I think this same story could be told with marionettes and nothing would be lost in translation. It’s not that the acting was horribly bad, that would have been more interesting, it was just so general and boring and vanilla.
The acting is uninspired, however. I felt like everyone was on downers the entire film and frankly I wanted to fall asleep right with them. That’s not to say the movie was a complete disaster. I thought the set decorators did a fantastic job with the 60’s style clothing and furniture (for the most part). The lighting was well done and I liked seeing the period appropriate vehicles zipping around the streets.
Instead of being called A Kind of Murder it should have been called “Easily Forgettable”. My biggest issue is that one of my favorite film genres is Noir and this film just fell completely flat for me. I wanted to get engaged and enjoy a new movie in the style that I like but it never grabbed me. I felt like Hannibal Lecter listening at the concert and being overwhelmed by the flutist playing so many wrong notes.
Perhaps a different director, one that is more accomplished or experienced would have helped the production. Maybe modern average movies should not be compared to classic greats of cinema. Of course perhaps the modern movie shouldn’t make so many direct references to those types of movies if they don’t want to get unfavorably compared to them?
The picture quality is exactly what you would expect from a modern moderately budgeted film to look like. The sound is DTS HD Master Audio. The film itself is pretty dialogue heavy with a light jazzy score so your surround sound won’t be stressed on this one. The sounds are clear and crisp but not necessarily outstanding. English and Spanish subtitles are included.
The Psychological Andy Goddard
The 60’s Look
The Noirish Characters of A Kind of Murder
A Kind of Murder Final Thoughts:
A Kind of Murder is not a poorly made film. It is just mediocre and ridiculously derivative, which unfortunately almost makes it worse than a bad film. It’s boring, the acting is wooden and there is no substance. The art direction is pretty and I liked the old cars used. The lighting is even pretty good. But as far as story, characters and emotion goes it completely falls flat. If you are interested in Film Noir there are so many great classics that there is no need to waste your time on this one, but if you want to see what I’m talking about, you can get it on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.