Mike Church
Created by Scott Frank

1991's Dead Again is a stylish, over-the-top, rip-snorting old-fashioned movie, full of good stuff: a mysteryious woman, a cynical private eye, a big spooky mansion, reincarnation, dirty secrets hidden in the past, and, um, scissors. Lots and lots of scissors. Directed and starring Kenneth Branagh as Los Angeles private eye MIKE CHURCH, the film also features his wife at the time, Emma Thompson, as a mysterious woman suffering from amnesia who shows up on the steps of an orphanage, the same orphanage where Mike grew up. He's hired by the priest who runs the orphange to try and find the woman's real identity. He decides to enlist the aid of an antiques dealer and hypnotist.

From there, the plot really starts to cook. It seems the woman keeps having nightmares involving the murder of a pianist Margaret, by her husband Roman Strauss in the late 1940's, who used a pair of scissors. Under hypnosis both the woman and Church seem to have a strange link back to the Strauss murder, reinforce by the fact that Branagh and Thompson play double roles here, as Margaret and Roman. And what's this sleek, darkly handsome newspaper reporter doing sniffing around Margaret, hours before her marriage?

The plot shuttles back and forth between past (black and white) and present (colour, natch), suggesting that the past may be about to replay itself. Everyone plays it straight, making it even more fun. And Branagh shows a firm, but playful, hand, as he captures the dizzying camera angles and sly video hints worthy of Hitchcock. Scissors appear throughout the film, foreshadowing, playing up the fact that this is a movie, (as if we could forget, when we're having such a good time) even as the circle of the plot draws in tighter and tighter.

A real hoot, heartily recommended. One of the most entertaining P.I. flicks in years.

FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY

UNDER OATH

FILM

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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