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What happens when you open your home to someone who's gutsier than you, more devious than you and crafty enough to steal your life right out from under you? Plenty of Malice. Starring Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman and Bill Pullman and boasting an excellent supporting cast (The New York Times) that includes OscarÂ(r) winners* Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Bancroft, this bold, riveting thriller is deviously entertaining (The New York Times). Easy-going college dean Andy Safian's (Pullman) quiet New England world has just been terribly disrupted. Two coeds have been raped, a third has been killed and the police are beginning to suspect him! At home, bills are pilingup, his wife (Kidman) is developing severe stomach cramps and the new tenanta devilishly handsome surgeon (Baldwin)is regularly entertaining nurses late into the night. Little does Andy know that all of these events are related and that he's about to be blindsided by something more daring and deadly than anything he could have ever imagined! *Paltrow: Actress, Shakespeare in Love (1998); Bancroft: Actress, The Miracle Worker (1962)
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Becker's done some brilliant films ("The Onion Field") and not so brilliant ("Domestic Disturbance") and "Malice" falls in the former category with a terrific script by Aaron Sorkin and Scott Frank, perfect performances from Bill Pullman, Nicole Kidman and Alec Baldwin.
Pullman plays Andy a college dean who finds his world is turned upside down when he becomes the suspect in a series of rapes and murders. Kidman plays his wife Tracy who must undergo emergency surgery that goes awry when performed by a brilliant surgeon played by Baldwin. These two threads are at the heart of this fantastic thriller.
END OF SPOILERS:
Any summary of the plot does a disservice to the carefully plotted and twisting story dreamed up by Sorkin and Frank.
"Malice" had a previous no frills release on a flipper DVD with the widescreen on one side and the full screen on the other side. The transfer was decent for the time but lacked the depth and detail evident in this striking transfer.
The audio is, likewise, quite good although the film would truly benefit from a 5.1 remix of the stems. Subtitles are included but only in English.
We get the trailers for this and Becker's "The Onion Field". I do wish that Kino would spring for special features on their releases. I realize the title was licensed but it would be nice to get a commentary track from Becker (who is still with us as of this writing), Baldwin, Kidman or Pullman describing the production of the film. Sadly, we don't get anything.
"Malice" is a marvelously plotted neo-noir thriller with a trio of strong performances that anchor the film.
I saw this for the first time in theatres with my mom, she kept covering my eyes so I didn't understand the plot-I was 13 at the time, I'll be 30 this year, but I had to watch it a few times before I could make any sense of it, but to me, the twists made it even more enjoyable. Nicole Kidman did a very good job in this film, Alec Baldwin, you go back and forth with his charecter-but the real villian is the biggest surprise. Because it made over $45 million in theaters,I have a hard time understanding why so many critics didn't like it, but then I keep forgetting the rule with them-if they like it, it stinks, if they don't, the audiences will.)
When Alec makes the 'God complex' speech, you really have to wonder what he's up to, but he gives it so convincingly, that you almost know he's really got it backwards. The film has many good one-liners, speeches, and a surprise around every corner-half the time, you aren't sure who's the real villian of the film, not to mention who's telling the truth...about anything.
Final note: after finally seeing the SAW series, I must mention Tobin Bell's cameo in this film, it was a good role for him, long before that was even thought of, at least 10 years prior.