A young man murders an old woman for money, then relies on a sense of intellectual superiority to defeat an investigating detective.
A heavyweight subject like Dostoevski would be a challenge for the most experienced filmmaker. For the youthful crew here, however, it proves way too much. For one, Hamilton simply doesn't have the gravitas to bring off a convincing intellectual heavyweight, and that punches a hole right through the film's middle. But he's not the only one. Silvera's cagey detective makes those cat and mouse sessions with Robert (Hamilton) borderline parody. I don't know what director Sanders was telling him, but whatever it was, it didn't work. Ditto Harding's hammy wife killer that produces another regrettable result. Unfortunately, acting here means more than usual since there's so much loaded conversation. Only the two women, Murphy and Seldes, come off aptly.
On the other hand, the filmmakers certainly don't lack imagination. Adapting a bleak 19th- century Russian novel to the sunny climes of LA amounts to an imaginative undertaking, whatever the outcome. However, modifying a dense 1,000-page novel into a 70-minute screenplay would be a challenge for Dostoevski himself. Unfortunately, the effort here is like trying to pack 10 lbs. of weighty story into a 5 lb. leaky screenplay. All in all, I'm glad the Sanders brothers and Hamilton went on to more appropriate projects.
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