Color of Night (1994)
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When his treatment of a patient fails and ends tragically, leaving him with some pronounced psychological damage of his own, New York psychologist Dr. Bill Capa (Bruce Willis) quits his practice and goes to Los Angeles seeking the solace and, perhaps, the help of an old friend and colleague, Dr. Bob Moore (Scott Bakula). Capa quickly discovers, however, that Moore is having problems of his own, apparently stemming from a weekly group therapy session he has been conducting for some time. Moore, it seems, has recently received some death threats, which he believes are coming from one of the patients of this particular group, though he hasn't a clue which one, nor any proof of his suspicions.
Moore invites Capa to sit in on the next group session, hoping for a fresh perspective and possibly some insights into the matter. At the moment, Capa feels incapable of actively engaging in the practice of his chosen field of endeavor, but in light of the fact that he's Bob's house guest, he acquiesces and agrees to observe the group. But it proves to be an inauspicious proposition for all concerned, and subsequent circumstances quickly put Capa at the center of just the kind of situation he left New York to avoid. Once the hand is dealt, however, he has no choice but to play it out to the end.
Rush began his career as a director with low budget exploitation films like `Too Soon to Love' in 1960, and ten films later achieved legitimate status with the highly successful black comedy, `The Stunt Man' in 1980, for which he received an Oscar nomination (along with his leading man, Peter O'Toole). He did not direct again until this film, some fourteen years later, and during that hiatus, Rush apparently lost whatever expertise he had accrued by 1980, and his `roots' are clearly showing in this one. The violence of the film is inherent in the story, but Rush makes it unnecessarily graphic; and while this could have been an incisive and insightful character study (and intrinsically more interesting), he takes the low road, fleshing it out instead with scenes of gratuitous sex and nudity, as well as superfluous action (he works in no less than two ridiculous car chases, one culminating in a vehicle being pushed from the top of a high rise parking garage). Furthermore, he ignores motivations and character development almost entirely; the two areas that required the most attention if this film was going to work at all.
Rush especially lets his actors down, inasmuch as most of these characters presented real challenges that could have been met much more successfully with the help and guidance of the director. Rush would have served his actors, as well as himself, better had he taken the time to explore these people being portrayed with some depth. He apparently did not, however, and with one exception the performances by one and all suffer for it.
In 1994, Bruce Willis simply was not the accomplished actor he is today, and he, especially, could have used some help in finding his character. it was help he obviously did not get, and his Capa ends up being too much John McClane and not enough Malcom Crowe. Willis flounders between the two personalities, creating a kind of schizophrenic characterization that seriously affects the credibility of his portrayal. And it's the same fate suffered by Scott Bakula here. Even in the scenes which places them in their `professional' setting as psychoanalysts, they are simply not convincing.
Making the case of poor directing even stronger are the performances of Lesley Ann Warren (Sondra), Brad Dourif (Clark), Ruben Blades (Lt. Martinez) and Kevin J. O'Connor (Casey). Like Willis, all of them seem to have trouble defining their individual characters, vacillating between any number of personalities and unable to achieve that necessary, final focus. It's the kind of indecisiveness that is usually resolved during rehearsals, but inexplicably made it to the screen here. The single exception is the performance turned in by Lance Henriksen, as Buck, who unlike his costars, somehow managed to find his character and make him convincing.
The odd-'woman'-out of the entire bunch is Jane March, who as Rose has perhaps the most challenging role of all, and when given the opportunity actually displays some talent. Unfortunately, Rush-- for the most part-- uses her in a way that is demeaning and without merit, and she becomes the object of a sleight-of-hand that is nothing more than a cheap trick Rush pulls out of his hat. And by failing to use her in a more productive way, by not concentrating on developing her character (which is so vital to the story), Rush commits his most critical error of all.
The supporting cast includes Eriq La Salle (Detective Anderson), Jeff Corey (Ashland), Kathleen Wilhoite (Michelle), Shirley Knight (Edith Niedelmeyer), John Bower (Medical Examiner) and Andrew Lowrey (Dale Dexter). The high note of this entire project was played before it ever even got off the ground, that being the story itself; but screenwriters Matthew Chapman and Billy Ray proceeded to methodically remove any and all credibility it may have initially contained, and Rush took it from there, taking `Color of Night' straight into that black hole reserved for movies that fail to deliver on their promise. It is not surprising that Rush has not directed a feature film since this one; once the magic is lost, it's hard to retrieve. 2/10.
Now for the story, I think character building was adequate. Of course you must not think too much. No psychiatrist would visit their patients at home and there is more that doesn't add up, but never the less, I was surprised with the end. People are getting killed and the killer is out there, really close to the main character. You really don't know who did it, all though you have your hunches. And that makes a thriller worth while, I think. And about eroticism, this film has stuff for him and her. Bruce really looks great in jeans and you get to see him naked here! And Jane March is stunning, also naked. Beautiful sex-scenes and nicely edited. The film has a nice chase too, a Mercedes SL against a Camaro or Trans Am.
Advice: see this film and judge for yourself! (and write it down here!) Switch your senses off and just let yourself be entertained. You'll see, you'll like it!
Bruce Willis must also be wondering why he signed up for this stinker. I'm sure the shooting script must have looked wonderful, but a combination of extremely clumsy editing (the sex scenes in the middle of the film are a wonderful example) and poor character development turned this into another Plan 9 From Outer Space. To all of you who gave this turkey positive comments, I ask you to ask yourselves: what psychiatrist in their right mind would see patients in buildings where it is that easy for patients to off themselves? Especially in such a lawsuit-happy society as America? What psychiatrist in their right mind stays back late in their office without carrying a firearm when they know someone is stalking them? Finally, when was the last time you heard of a psychiatrist taking over a group of patients for a friend in the profession when one of them might have murdered him? Oh, and a special note on Ruben Blades' role: even beat police are not that ignorant about psychiatry, an especially important element of their job considering how often they may be confronted by psych patients waving weapons in the middle of an episodic crisis.
As a veteran of numerous therapy groups, I could not stop laughing at this film. If it had been approached with the intention of making a comedy, then it would have succeeded beyond all expectations. However, the advertising campaign and the babbling tone of the dialogue left me with the general feeling that this film was taking itself WAY too seriously. If you do take yourself that seriously, get a better script. If you have such a ridiculous script that will get laughed at by the 20% that will experience some form of psychiatric problem in their lifetime (that's just a statistical fact based on reported cases... the real incidence may actually be higher), don't take yourself so seriously. It's that simple.
From the beginning we realize who the killer is, as well as the person with the multiple personality problem. It's too obvious! The film relies heavily on the sexual attraction between Bill Capa and Rose. Much has been speculated in this forum about whether we are actually seeing Willis' willis, or not. Since most male stars wouldn't be caught dead showing their genitals, for obvious reasons, what is seen for a second in the pool scene is that of a body double. On the other hand, we see Jane March showing it all, which is a welcome attraction.
Only the final sequence has any impact. There are many things in the plot that don't add up and the viewer is ahead of the story at all times.
Bruce Willis with a hairpiece looks good. Jane March has a better chance with the character she plays. Also Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen have their moments. The one that doesn't come across well is Ruben Blades, an otherwise excellent actor trying to do a Columbo routine in this film.
I can understand why Jane March hasnt done much, she'll be type-cast as woman who takes clothes off alot. & yeah, this is as close to a porn flick as you can get, when it comes to big named actors in studio movies.
In my opinion, there are worse movies with Bruce Willis. This is worth seeing if you're in the mood for a adult-orientated suspense thriller...with quite alot of sex. & yes, ladies, You can see Bruce's winky in this too.
But otherwise, "Color of Night" is episodic, dim-witted, way over-long, and wildly overblown. There is a lot of over-emoting in this film, especially from that queen of over-emoters - Lesley Ann Warren. The movie's idea of excitement is to have various repellent characters scream the F-word a lot, have tears run down their cheeks and threaten to go off the deep end but never quite do. And there are downright idiotic chase scenes, particularly the one that takes place in the parking garage: for some reason, instead of just running him down, the mysterious Camaro driver pushes a parked car off an upper level and tries to time it so that it will land on Willis on the bottom level. And then of course in the very next scene, Willis is behaving as if nothing really traumatic has happened. In fact, Willis is tentative and under-directed throughout the film.
There is one interesting footnote however. Has anyone else noticed the similarity to "The Sixth Sense", at least as far as basic premise? True, the films couldn't be more different in terms of development of story or quality, but to wit: Both star Bruce Willis as a psychiatrist who feels tremendous guilt over a patient he's failed, and they both highlight the color "red". Hmmmm.
Willis is likewise, and March delivers a sultry performance as the so-called "femme fatale" (although it's revealed in the climax ending she was innocent). After all the reviews, I was expecting some big-budget, corny action/sex thriller; but I was obviously under a very wrong impression.
Color of Night is an awesome pop-corn film and a fun party movie too.
For an early nineties mystery starring Bruce, I thought this was a friggin excellent flick... and entirely watchable. The previous night I had popped in the more recent thriller, Signs, which stars another massive, fresh-faced cracker (Mel Gibson a.k.a The Messiah) and was so bored I passed out. I feel that this was due in large part to Signs' attempt at registering as respectable cinema... basically Shyamalan emulating his breakout hit The Sixth Sense- another decent movie starring mr. willis...
I thought that most of the characters in Color of Night were well-fleshed-out (no pun intended) and likable. The patients' neuroses were a bit contrived but entertaining nonetheless... esp. Sondra's nymphomania and Clark's OCD.
The important thing to realize here is that with a flick like Color of Night the primary reward is ENTERTAINMENT... nothing about it is really very thought-provoking which should be obvious from the get-go. I might not be blessed with a "tuning fork" for mysteries but I was in the dark as to who the killer was for a while and I found some of the plot twists surprising.
The big sale comes of course with the tension between hot co-stars Big Bruce and the buck-toothed but beautiful Jane March... and the myriad sexual encounters which ensue. The kicker is of course the sex-in-the-pool scene, where we are first introduced to March's creamy goodness and gumdrop nipples, and a few short glimpses of Bruce's engorged willis.
The film is downright titillating... with basically every character boning the luscious Rose, who, it seemed to me, was the obvious choice for killer extraordinaire. I think the ending will surprise all but the most vigilant viewers... plus, the cars are cool (Rose drives a teal-and-pink Geo Tracker for chrissakes), the setting is so.cal., the breasts are bare, tan lines on full display and lots of creative violence including but not limited to a rattlesnake in the mailbox... oh yeah and there's a cameo appearance by that one dude from Quantum Leap.
Pop some popcorn and don't expect any Academy Award-caliber acting!!
It is one of those movies that you start watching because you have nothing better to do, but the second half makes you wish that you'd paid more attention to the first!
Bruce plays the excellent confused lover opposite Jane March, but then again, who wouldn't?!!?!! The "group" scenes are wonderful. They really make you feel like you are within the neurosis of the patients. It is very fun!
I would highly recommend seeing the film, and then watching it. It's well worth it.
That being said, this movie is actually a solid 7 in my book because it delivers a good plot without too many holes and without over-stretching my suspension of disbelief. It also delivers solid acting and well developed characters, including the support cast which is a rarity in modern Hollywood movies. In short, my feeling was that all the characters were played well, were believable and easy to connect with.
Special kudos go to Jane March who is not only very beautiful and graceful in this role but pulls of a multiple personality role quite well in my opinion and is overall a pleasure to watch and this has nothing to do with the nude scenes which are just an added bonus for some of the audience...
Finally, I suspect this movie is so poorly rated in part because of the aforementioned nudity as I noticed a trend in this regard with all the puritans racing to give a rating of 1/10 to any movie containing nudity.
Brad Dourif has also never given a poor performance.
This reminded me of something Fred Olen Ray or Jim Wynorski would have done (not a bad thing in my eyes) but they could have done it with probably a tenth the budget. Sure, they wouldn't have gotten Bruce Willis or Jane March, but it's basically one of their movies with a bigger budget.
This isn't a title that I'd rush out to see, but will stop the remote when it's on HBO and enjoy on that purely cheesy, total popcorn movie level.
So solid movie, a few laughs (unintentional), naked Jane March and in the directors cut, naked Bruce Willis, Leslie Anne Warren in a lesbian scene with Jane March...what more could a b-movie fan want? 7/10
There are very clever split screen shots using mirrors so that we can see both characters during conversations. The film is overdone though. It becomes a bit too heavy-handed near the end and then we are left with an overdub from one of the characters that seems silly. Also, when we find out who the killer is the actor seems a little uncomfortable with his dialog.
Not perfect by any means but very unique and very well shot. Almost feels like a Brian Depalma film. A mysterious thriller that pulls you in and keeps you interested.