A Slight Case of Murder

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One of those feelgood made-for-TV films that’s somehow managed to net a great cast as they were commuting between better paying jobs.

I suspect that that’s because William H Macy is involved, David Mamet’s favourite actor being the star and the adapter of Donald Westlake’s novel about a film critic who kills his girlfriend by accident and then uses his film buffery to cover up the crime. It’s a neat conceit obviously designed to appeal to film lovers, who get double helpings when the cop on the accidental killer’s tail (Adam Arkin) also turns out to be a film buff himself.

Comic noir is the prevailing tone, once the film’s initial skittishness has dissipated, with black humour as back-up for people who aren’t quite catching the film references. Best of all are the “oh god don’t do that, you’ll only make it worse” moments.

Macy has just the face to pull this sort of innocent abroad shtick. Always great as a dupe, he’s especially good here because this is one of those very knowing films (there’s lots of breaking of the fourth wall with Macy’s addresses to camera) where the critic is convinced he’s one step ahead of the law, yet we’re generally one step ahead of the both of them.

If it never quite hits the Billy Wilder heights it has probably set its sights on, Felicity Huffman (Macy’s wife in real life), James Cromwell and Paul Mazursky are among those making A Slight Case of Murder an enjoyably slight case of entertainment.

A Slight Case of Murder – at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2000

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