An unhappily married architect begins stalking a suspected wife murderer little realising the fateful consequences that lie in store in A Kind of Murder, a twisty and twisted psychological thriller set in early 1960s New York and Newark.
‘Nothing straight up about me,’ says Patrick Wilson’s glib protagonist Walter Stackhouse, early on in the film. A successful architect who dabbles in writing mystery stories on the side, he’s seeking to impress Haley Bennett’s boho singer Ellie at a party being thrown by his neurotic, emotionally demanding wife, Clara, played by a very tightly wound Jessica Biel. Naturally, he’s quite unaware of how true his words actually are.
Sure enough, his twisted psyche emerges as he develops an unhealthy interest in Eddie Marsan’s murder suspect, bookstore owner Marty Kimmel, while striving to escape his stifling marriage and pursue an affair with Ellie. Meanwhile, the third point in a triangle of guilt and obsession, zealous police detective Lawrence Corby (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser), shadows both men, determined to bring them down.
A Kind of Murder is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Blunderer, and it’s not hard to detect echoes of Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train here. The film is stylishly shot and perversely gripping, but don’t expect any of the main characters to behave rationally – this is Highsmith’s world after all.
Certificate 15. Runtime 92 mins. Director Andy Goddard
A Kind of Murder is available on DVD & Digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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