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3.6 out of 5 stars
Under Suspicion
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I always knew Gene Hackman was a superb actor but he eclipses even himself in the complex layering he gives us of a man under suspicion of double rape and homicide. It reminded me early on of a French film I had been oddly unmoved by, 1981's "Garde a Vue," and then I learned this was a remake of that film. Usually, we Americans ruin it when we remake French films but this time I think it is quite the reverse. One reason is Hackman and the other is that the director and writers have opened this film up so it lost its stagey aspects and moved well beyond the confines and restraints of the police station. Hackman is interrogated by Morgan Freeman, no slouch himself in the acting department. However, Freeman's police captain character simply does not have the complex nuances of Hackman's.

Picture a man who absolutely hates his life, although he is rich, at the top of his profession and married to a beautiful but much younger woman. What might this man do to release himself from the deadliness of his daily life? Would killing two girls release him from the grips of this being-dead-while alive state? Or would he be more likely to shoot himself in the foot or walk in front of a bus? What extremes of human behavior will he go to in order to break out of walking around like a zombi? This is the fundamental question you have to ask yourself about Hackman's character throughout and he indeed has you vacillating on predicting what he did do. When you run the entire film back through your memory, the ending, which I cannot tell you, completely fits. The end makes total sense if you tuned in throughout to each particle of the character that Hackman gave you, starting with the time he first picked up the phone to call the police. He, after all, is a lawyer who should know better than to open a door he wants to keep shut. Or does he?

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2002
Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors. Gene Hackman ranks right up there as well. That is why I watched the movie; that has something to do with why I enjoyed it because frankly I can't see someone like Arnold or Bruce playing either of the characters in this movie. But there's more to it than enjoying two actors I respect perform at their best.
It is obvious before this movie is too far underway that both these men are superb at what they do. There isn't a lot of action, so if you like car chases and bombs exploding, this one isn't what you're looking for. I enjoyed watching Freeman and Hackman verbally duke it out with the control moving back and forth between the two men through to the end. Just when I thought I knew what the truth was, the tables were turned and I was back to square one. I like books and movies that incorporate psychological undercurrents, and who doesn't like seeing the great and powerful brought down a peg or two? I wasn't prepared, however, for the extent to which this movie explored the fact that nothing is ever what it appears to be.
I would not recommend this movie to all my friends because some of them just don't have the patience to stick with this story. But for those who appreciate this kind of developing story built upon with insightful revelations that change the way in which the characters are viewed, I highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2001
One of the best movie's I have seen this year. It is hard to imagine that Gene Hackman was not nominated for his performance. He had a very difficult part and he always seem's to find a way to make his character's interesting. The ending is a surprise and it leaves you asking question's. You may not agree with the ending but it makes you think. It makes you wonder how do they feel; what made them say this or do that. Which in itself is a accomplishment; when you consider that many of the movie's I have seen in the past few year's you forget as soon as you leave the theater. Some of the film's that recieve high praise this year are a distant second to this film. It is nice to see a film that builds it suspense on a good story and not a high body count.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2001
'Under Suspicion' is one of those movies which is, to put it honestly, mediocre. It stars two fine actors (Morgan Freeman & Gene Hackman), is quite innovatively directed (by Stephen Hopkins), and has an interesting setting (Puerto Rico during a carnival). The plot, on the other hand, comes across pretty standard.
This is basically a police interrogation, familiar to many as it has been rendered time and again on television and in other movies. It is done well, by all involved, but it has also been done before. Hackman and Freeman, and the direction of Hopkins, lift the telling of the tale up a notch, but it still feels like old ground. There has been crime commited (in this case two murders), there is a prime suspect (Hackman), and so he and the overzealous policeman (Freeman) square off for a close-quarters interrogation.
This sort of scenario, though well-worn, can make for a really good movie, so I sat back and soaked it all in. The film kept me riveted throughout, until the ending came along. Now, I am not here to give anything away - don't worry. But what I will say is that the picture suddenly went from its entire focus of a "Did he do it?" interrogation flick to "Let's pause and reflect upon these characters, their lives, their hopes, their troubles, their fears, their desires, their angst" - etc. etc.
A movie which wants to end so poignantly must be sure to make the audience care about the characters. Maybe other viewers did. I did not, as I took this movie as a mystery/thriller. Most mystery/thrillers are simply plot-driven, and I saw no exception with 'Under Suspicion'. In a mystery/thriller, most of the actions taken by the characters are usually scrutinized for how they affect the *plot*, not the characters themselves.
I don't know if I've expressed my thoughts on the matter very well - perhaps not. But my final word on the film is that it is enjoyable and engaging until the last 5-10 minutes. Just be prepared for what some may deem a possibly disappointing ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2012
Under Suspicion (2000) is a re-make of a French film Garde à vue (1981) directed by Claude Miller and starring Romy Schneider, Michel Serrault, Lino Ventura and Guy Marchand. It was based on the British novel Brainwash, by John Wainwright. I did not see the French film simply because I can't find it but I've seen Under Suspicion more than once and enjoy it every time even though I know how it ends.

As a thriller/mystery/crime investigation, Under Suspicion (2000) teases a viewer and more likely would leave a fan of the pure genre disappointed but as a psychological character study which uses the mystery and serial murders investigation as a device to explore the darkest places of human desires and relationships, it is very good. Besides, watching for almost two hours the duel of wills, intellects, and despairs between noble as always Morgan Freeman and exceptional Gene Hackman is a treat. The director's approach to narrative that allows the viewer to be placed along with Victor (Freeman) inside the flashbacks of Hackman's character, Hector, is interesting, unusual, and fresh, and adds to an uneasy and dark atmosphere of the forbidden and deeply hidden desires and fantasies. As great as they both are, for many years after I saw the film for the first time, it was the striking beauty of then relatively little known to the American viewers, Italian Monica Belucci that I remembered vividly. The film director, Stephen Hopkins wanted to cast Monica Bellucci after watching Malèna (2000) while on an overseas flight. I am glad he did. She did not get lost next to her celebrated partners in the film. I also think that moving the action to San Juan, Puerto Rico during the San Sebastian Street Festival that is celebrated every third week in January was a good idea. The carnival atmosphere of music, vibrant colors, and grotesque masks strikes the dramatic contrast with the harrowing devastating experience the main characters of the movie go through and the place in life they find themselves after the investigation is over. Will they ever forget?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
UNDER SUSPICION is definitely worth seeing to bask in the acting talent of Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. Freeman is once again the good cop, but even he has some skeletons in his closet that Hackman is not afraid to expose. Hackman, meanwhile, exemplifies the socially prominent tax lawyer whose penchant for young women gets him in a lot of trouble. Monica Bellucci is delicious to look at, and has the chops to sustain her role; Thomas Jane adds some gruffness to his somewhat egotistical detective. I found director Stephen Hopkins' "gimmick" of juxtaposing the interrogation with the actual flashbacks a unique and entertaining change of pace; it kept us confused as to whose story to believe. Unfortunately, there are so many contradictions and unanswered questions the movie ultimately fails to satisfy. Coincidences....false confessions...and a surprise murderer only make the movie come across muddled. However, the sharp performances and Hopkins' artful direction held my interest nicely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2001
I'm really surprised this movie did not get a decent theatrical release. The story, a cat and mouse game, between Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman is gripping. Monica Bellucci is both beautiful and interesting as Hackman's wife. This forgotten movie is worth a look.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The title foreshadows the subtle reality behind the film, missed even by some professional critics. Hackman plays Henry Hearst, a noted attorney, and rather well-off, to say the least, and a close friend of police Captain, Victor Benezet, played by Morgan Freeman. Hearst's much, much, younger wife, Chantal, is the erotically, gorgeous, Italian star, Monica Bellucci. Thomas Jane plays a not-so-bright, detective, with a desire for violent solutions to gaining a confession. Hearst, is apparently, incredibly wealthy, and on his way to be the be key note speaker at an event at the request of Captain Benezet's boss, when he is asked by Benezet to stop by headquaters for "ten minutes, or so," to help out with the case of two murdered teenage girls.

Ten minutes stretches into hours and a cat and mouse game between the obviously brilliant lawyer, Hearst, and the cagy, Benezet, ensues. Benezet has his pal squirming, and Hearst's gorgeous wife has shut him out of her affections, over what she saw as his attempts to seduce her teenaged niece, so the introduction of Benezet's evidence of Hearst's possible dallaince and murders of girls about the same age as the niece who is object of Chantal's apparent insecurity, (or was it an excuse (?) for her to rebel against, or reject, her older husband), gives her cause for reflection. As the torturous grilling goes on, the stress on the participents becomes almost unbearable. Hearst and Benezet are featured in innovative flashbacks of the sort one sees regularly on CSI Miami, and as the tension builds, tempers flare, violence seems right around the corner, and one wonders, where is the lawyer's, lawyers(?), as the duel works it's deceptions into the psyche of the suspect, witnesses and Interrogators.

Hearst's guilt/innocence, glides back and forth with every new revelation of each member of the drama. I shall not spoil, the conclusion for you, but the acting, direction, script, and settings are flawless and the ending is somewhat unexpected, though we guessed correctly, our companions did not.

What floated under the radar, hence my title, was the lustfull envy of both Benezet and the young, violence prone, detective at Hearst's wealth, position, intellect, possessions, prominently including his luscious and much younger wife, Bellucci as Chantal. One can see the roiling covetousness of the antagonists of Hearst, and the feeling rises, that one sees so often now days, of a lawman making every effort to nail a wealthy and fortunate man, at the expense of justice. Benezet, seems determined to wreck the rest of Hearst's life to satisfy his jealousy and his young assistant seems to care little about anything but throwing a few punches and maybe getting closer to Chantal, also Benezet's, seeming, but more reserved desire. Mankind's error is that the interpretation of the word "covet" does nor merely mean desiring what another has, but acting maliciously upon that desire, to steal it away, whether or not they benefit from their action.

It is the old case of penis, cash and prominence, envy, of men locked in jobs which pay is nominal, who lust after what they cannot have and another, whose grass may not be as green as they think and desire.

You cannot go wrong with Freeman, Hackman, and Stephen Hopkins masterful direction, exposing lust, uncertainty, disloyalty, distrust, immaturity and envy. Watch Hackman, in the final scene, display his self-respect, despite what must have been a heartbreaking realization.

The only questionable thing, which seemed a bit ludicrous in this taut drama, is why Hearst, a skilled and successful attorney, did not immediately clam up and call a criminal attorney. It appeared to be an author's less than honest, contrivance, a shill game, which covered up a weakness in the plot-line which would have alerted Allen Shore-James Spader-Boston Legal, had this been written by David E. Kelley. Kelley would have reconstructed the plot to compensate for the oversight or laziness, or the attempt to put one over on the audience. He would have post-haste ended the interrogation and cut to a trial instead. The proper answer by Hearst to the first subtly suspicious question should have been, "Either arrest me, release me, or I will call my lawyer, Right now!"

The dessert is that even the measured glimpses of the alluring Monica Bellucci, remind one of all besides the art, the food and land/seascapes, that is good about Italy.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2004
I first caught this movie by chance on the Bravo network. It seemed like it had the makings of a great film, and Freeman and Hackman do a fabulous job. Although it can at times drag on, due largely in part to the permanent setting of the police office, the dialogue and dynamic between Freemand and Hackman is intense and engrossing.

I was really looking forward to the ending, as the plot up until that point kept building up the suspense and had me asking a million questions. Then it happened, and it made no sense. Hackman's character confesses to a murder he didn't committ and a lot of other stuff happens that makes no sense. Right after watching it I got on the internet to see if somewhere somebody could explain what the heck the ending was about, and all I found was dozens of other people as confused as I was. Some sites mentioned that the director said that the whole reason Hackman's character confesses to a rape/murder he didn't committ was because he couldn't stand to live if his wife really thought he was such a monster. That explains a little, but there are still huge holes. So if he didn't do it who did? Some random guy who is never identified is hauled into the station and it is clear that he is the murderer, but it also seems like the wife had something to do with it, possibly to frame her husband and also maybe because she was upset when she saw him laughing and talking with his young niece. But really, is that reason enough to try and frame him as a perverted murderer? And if it was all her idea, then why does she seem so shocked by everything?

My best guess is that she wanted to divorce him because they were in a loveless marriage, and she was sick of him lusting after young girls, but she couldn't just have a regular divorce because he husband was a powerful man and it would have been a mess. At the same time she had a feeling (and she was correct) that her husband had a fasciantion with young girls, so I guess she got in cahoots with some murderer and planted all this evidence to incriminate her husband so she could divorce him easily. Thats why he says at one point "I can't believe she would go to all this trouble to make a point", he knows what she is doing, she is framing him because she is bitter, neglected and whats a divorce, and he know it. He gives in and says he did it because he doesn't want to deal with her anymore, and realizes for the first time that she really hates him and would go to extreme lengths because she really thinks he is a monster. It might also be because he knows that he is sick and perhaps he feels guilty.

I love a movie that makes you think, but the ending of this one forces the viewers to completely invent a reason for the ending because there are no explanations that actually exist in the plot.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2003
When we have first-rate actors such as Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman in a movie, we expected nothing but the best. Compounded by this interrogation-style movie, we expected to have a treat. In many ways, this movie meant to do well with a great location such as Puerto Rico, the female star in the form of Monica Belluchi (who found fame in an Italian movie, & also as a beau to Bruce Willis), & not to mention a director, Stephen Hopkins who gave us "The Ghost & The Darkness", starring Michael Douglas & Val Kilmer. Sad to say that I was disappointed with the outcome & it was quite akin to "Snake Eyes", a dud starred Nicholas Cage & Gary Sinise. The interrogation was constant in a room, & there were flashbacks from those three main characters. Camera tricks were used to make it interesting but the premise of this movie was so thin & that after two hours, we couldn't help it but exhausted by the ordeal. This movie explored also the strained relationships between Gene Hackman's character & his wife, & also testing the friendships between Gene's character & Morgan's character. Anyhow, to have those two as executive producers as well, they really missed the target by a wide margin. No wonder this movie went straight to the video market. Quite an open-ended ending & unsatisfying.
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