Review: A Slight Case of Murder

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William H Macy in A Slight Case of Murder
William H Macy heads for the fateful and fatal moment in A Slight Case of Murder


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.


© Steve Morrissey 2000


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A Slight Case of Murder (1999) Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 94min | TV Movie 19 September 1999 7.0
Director: Steven SchachterWriter: Donald E. Westlake, William H. MacyStars: William H. Macy, Adam Arkin, Felicity HuffmanSummary: A film critic accidentally kills his lover during a spat in which she falls and hits her head. In panic, he immediately covers up his involvement and leaves the apartment. A private investigator had been tailing the woman for her ex-husband. Realizing what happened, the investigator launches a blackmail scheme. The critic turns the tables after the investigator turns in his report. Meanwhile the police enter the case. Led by a detective with screenwriting ambitions, the chief suspect becomes the critic. But the detective's ambitions shrouds his judgment. He invites the critic to dinner and an affair with the detective's wife is initiated. Meanwhile, the critic's regular girl friend is suspicious of the whole affair. Written by John Sacksteder <>


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