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Identity (2003)

Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they're being killed off one by one.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ed
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Lou
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Caroline Suzanne (as Rebecca DeMornay)
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Defense Lawyer
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District Attorney
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Storyline

Malcolm Rivers has been convicted as the perpetrator of several murders and is sentenced to death. An eleventh hour defense by his lawyers and psychiatrist that Malcolm is insane based on new evidence has resulted in them meeting with the prosecutors and the judge to discuss if the verdict should be overturned. Meanwhile, on a dark night during a torrential rainstorm in the Nevada desert, a series of chain reaction events results in several people needing to stay at an out of the way motel managed by Larry. They are: ex-cop now limo driver Ed, and his client Caroline, a diva of a once famous actress; quiet adolescent Timmy, his stepfather George, and his mother Alice, who was seriously injured when Ed accidentally ran over her as she watched George change their flat tire; prostitute Paris, who was the unwitting cause of George's flat tire; newlyweds Lou and Ginny, whose marriage is based on a lie; and Police Officer Rhodes, who was en route escorting prisoner Robert to his new ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Identity is a secret. Identity is a mystery. Identity is a killer. See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 April 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I.D.  »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$16,225,263 (USA) (25 April 2003)

Gross:

$51,475,962 (USA) (13 June 2003)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (alternate DVD)

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

'John Cusack' and 'Amanda Peet' would later go on to play the lead roles in 2012 (2009), where they play a recently divorced couple. John Cusack played a limousine driver in 2012 (2009), while his character in Identity is a driver. See more »

Goofs

When Ms. Suzanne is first given a room, the manager says "Number 8 is cozy." and hands her the keys. When she comes out of the room to check for service on her phone, the number on the door is 9. See more »

Quotes

George York: [Alice York just got hit by a car] The driver of every motor vehicle involved in any matter of an accident originating between the operation of a vehicle shall within ten days of the accident, report the accident.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The first few opening credits leave behind a letter to the word "IDENTITY" as they fade away. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

All My Life
Written and Performed by Foo Fighters
Courtesy of Roswell Records / The RCA Records Label, a unit of BMG Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Who Are You? Who who, Who who
17 March 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Because of what seem to be unusual circumstances, eleven people, strangers to each other outside of their respective "groups" (two families, two professional associations), end up stranded in a desolate Nevada motel on a dark, stormy night. One of the "strangers" is a death row murderer being escorted to another prison for execution. When bodies start turning up and the murderer goes missing, he's the obvious suspect. But things are not what they seem. Identity provides a "double mystery"--a traditional whodunit and an increasingly bizarre "rubber reality" mystery that we must figure out along with the characters.

This is my second viewing of Identity. I didn't like it quite as much this time, although it still earned a "B". The two aspects I had a slight problem with on the second go-round were one, the plot didn't quite envelop me to the same extent (maybe because I remembered the twist?) and two, since first watching it, I've seen a lot more films in the rubber reality genre, and Identity is nowhere near as mind-bending as many other examples. Still, this is a great film, with a lot of assets.

Director James Mangold effectively employs a number of interesting techniques here. The main standout in the first reel is the use of Tarantino-like "multiple viewpoint" shots, where we see the same span of time from one character's point of view, then another, then another. He also effectively creates two very attractive atmospheres, especially for fantasy fans--a "Twilight Zone"(1959)-like conundrum and a sustained dark ambiance. The Twilight Zone aspect makes itself most obvious beginning with the scene where the convict, Robert Maine (Jake Busey), tries to flee, but discovers that he's still at the motel, after all. The constant, Blade Runner (1982)-like rain underscores the dark ambiance, which is reminiscent of films such as Fallen (1998) and Se7en (1995).

While Identity isn't exactly a bastion of graphic violence, there are a number of strongly visceral scenes and shots that are extremely well done and effective for seeming realistic. The atmosphere is also greatly enhanced by the hotel set, which matches the Bates Motel from Psycho (1960) in dingy gloom. The film also has a wonderfully nihilistic ending.

Even though I wasn't as enraptured in suspense this time, one is still drawn into the film by the gradual quickening and spiraling of loss of control experienced by the characters. While slowly killing each one of them off as they're stuck in an isolated setting is a traditional "10 Little Indians" horror film motif that writer Michael Cooney employs, the Twilight Zone aspects allow him to trump the sense of horror and despair, as the surviving characters come to realize that they are not in charge of their own lives, they can't call the shots, and their illusions about their realities crumble before their eyes.

One of the negatives is that the rubber reality resolution is a bit too telegraphed, too overt. The solution is given too early, and ends up being spelled out note-for-note. It's a bit like giving a lecture on a joke right after one gives the punch line. It might be difficult to blame either Cooney or Mangold with this, however, as American film studios and test audiences are notoriously allergic to ambiguity, which is depressing, because I love ambiguity in films. Still, maybe the Identity is just easier to figure out when you've seen tens of rubber reality flicks. When I watched the film upon its theatrical release, I overheard more than one fellow theater-goer still trying to figure out the gist as the lights came up.

One might be tempted to claim that Mangold under-uses his fine cast--who all turn in excellent performances, including one of my favorite character actors, John C. McGinley. But on the other hand, it makes sense that there is this large number and broad range of characters. Under this scenario, you either under-use them or you've got a 3-hour-plus film (not that I'd complain about a 3-hour-plus film).

Of course the theme of the film, as well as all of the subtexts, has to do with personal identity, and especially veiled personal identity. None of the characters are who they seem. Most of them are lying to each other in some way when they first meet, and even some of the ones who know each other already are also lying to each other. Cooney and Mangold explore the various social facts, actions, ceremonies, rituals and so on that help provide personal identity for us, such as birthdates, names, residency, marriages, benevolent versus criminal or unethical actions, and occupations. They also explore a more dynamic identity of action, as relationships continually shift throughout the film.


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