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Classy Modern Noir Fantasy
gftbiloxi18 April 2005
Although he received tremendous praise for his memorable film production of Shakespeare's HENRY V, DEAD AGAIN was the film that really introduced actor/director Kenneth Branagh to mainstream American film, and for a time he and then-wife Emma Thompson were the most celebrated acting couple since Olivier and Leigh. The marriage did not last, but fortunately this film did--and I say fortunately, for although it is somewhat forgotten today, DEAD AGAIN is an overlooked jewel of a film: classy, noir-ish, stylish, and very memorable indeed.

The story is fanciful. In the late 1940s noted composer Roman Strauss was convicted of murdering his noted pianist wife Margaret, and was sentenced to death. Some forty years later, a young woman suffering from amnesia falls into the hands of a no-nonsense Los Angeles private eye--and under hypnosis she recalls not her immediate past, but the lives of Roman and Margaret. Is this reincarnation? Is she Margaret Strauss? Is the private eye to whom she is attracted but of whom she is also strangely fearful the reincarnation of Roman Strauss, Margaret's killer? Is history repeating itself? Scott Frank's clever script makes for a fast-paced, twisting, and fascinating plot-driven film--and it is flawlessly played by Branagh and Thompson, who assume dual roles as the 1940s Roman and Margaret Strauss and the 1980s Mike Church and Grace. The supporting cast is also excellent, with memorable performances by Andy Garcia and Derek Jacobi--and a truly exceptional cameo by Robin Williams, who here for the first time demonstrated that his talents went far beyond comedy. The shifts between past and present, nightmare and reality are exceedingly well done, and although the plot becomes more and more fantastic the entire film is so perfectly executed that one buys into it every step of the way.

If DEAD AGAIN has a flaw, it is that some of the twists and turns are predictable--but in the film's favor I must admit that it sweeps you along so quickly that you seldom have time to analyze that failing while you actually watch the film. It is also to a certain extent a "one trick pony" film; the film is at its most powerful upon a first viewing, when one is oblivious to what is coming. But even so, it is tremendously effective and it holds up as well today as when it first appeared on the big screen. The current DVD includes little in the way of extras beyond commentary tracks by producer Lindsay Doran, writer Scott Frank, and director-star Kenneth Branagh--and these are as hit-and-miss as commentary tracks usually are, but they hit more often than miss. The picture and sound quality is overall very good. Recommended!

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Kenneth Branagh is alive again.
dbdumonteil10 February 2005
Trying to work à la Hitchcock is a very perilous task:Kenneth Branagh walks out with honors.The numerous influences and nods are interesting:"Notorious" "Rebecca" "Spellbound" "Vertigo""dial M for murder" come to mind but there are certainly more...Brannagh is a pupil who assimilates things easily.He's helped by a stellar cast:his then-wife Emma Thompson,really beautiful,Hanna Shygulla ,in an underwritten part ,Robin Williams,Campbell Scott,Andy Garcia -You want to stop smoking?Have a look at his last scene!-.... The marvelously far-fetched plot grabs the audience till the very end as the two stories meet.Brannagh and Thompson succeeded in creating two characters each .The director cleverly uses in turn color (present) and black and white (past).The finale in the flat where the amnesic girl keeps her surrealist works (a la Dali,like in "spellbound" ) is grand guignol at its best.That's entertainment!
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An unusual mix that really works
Tom Murray28 September 2004
Dead Again is categorized as Mystery / Romance / Thriller and it does very well in all three categories. It begins as a mystery, develops into a romance and ends up very thrilling. It is also Gothic, film noir, sometimes melodramatic and often humorous: an unusual mix that really works. The opening credits show 1948 news stories about symphony conductor, Roman Strauss (Kenneth Branagh), who was executed for murdering his wife, Margaret (Emma Thompson). The film was in Black and White. Then the film switches to the present and to colour and we find Emma Thompson in a Catholics boys' home, mute and suffering from nightmares and amnesia. The priest in charge elicits free help from Mike Church (Kenneth Branagh), a private detective who specializes in missing persons and was brought up in that home. "Grace" (a name that she and Mike use because she does not know her real name) ends up staying with Mike while he tries to sort things out. An advertisement brings Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi), who offers to discover her past through hypnotic regression. He ends up regressing her into a past life. At this point, if one does not believe in reincarnation, as Mike Church did not, then one can add Fantasy to the list of the film's categories; it does very well in that category also.

As fate would have it, Mike and Grace grow closer and fall in love, an event that is undoubtedly made more convincing by the fact that Branagh and Watson were happily married at the time that the film was made. The style of the modern romance contrasts with the melodrama of the 1940's marriage, in which Roman gives Margaret an anklet and says, "The man I bought it from explained to me that when a husband gives this to his wife, they become two halves of the same person. Nothing can separate them, not even death." That idea helped to clarify the most surprising plot twist of all, one that is disclosed visually. The plot is one of the cleverest mystery plots that I have witnessed. One is never sure of what to think. Did Roman kill Margaret? If not then who did? Many look suspicious. What is the relationship between the past lovers, Roman and Margaret, and the present lovers, Mike and Grace? The plot has many twists and turns, all of which appear to be realistic. Clues drop like rain. There are many strong roles and the acting is excellent throughout. Many actors have roles in both stories.
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Film noir reincarnation/murder story with surprising twists
cshalm27 July 2005
This movie is one of the unappreciated jewels of the 1990's, a film done so well that virtually every aspect, from script to direction to performances to music to editing, sweeps you away. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson (who were then married)each played two roles, one in the past, one in the present, with different clothes, hairstyles and accents, as part of a couple destined to be together forever.

Branagh, coming off his rookie directing debut in HENRY V, did a simply beautiful job here, using the same creative team as HV (Patrick Doyle deserves especial kudos for his astounding musical score). Playing both a cynical private eye ("I'm not looking for Miss Right; I'm looking for Miss Right Now") and a jealous German composer from the 1940's, he turns in two complete portraits of unusual men, while directing as well.

The film didn't stay in theaters long (most likely due to studio politics), but has apparently found a new audience on video. I've loved it since the first time I saw it, in its first run (I admit to seeing it five times in the theater and buying it on video the day it came out) -- so I may be slightly prejudiced -- but from every angle -- thriller, love story, character study -- it's a winner. See it on DVD and hear Branagh's comments on various aspects of the film -- that adds another dimension right there.

In fact, see it any way you can. It's just marvelous.
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richard cavellero11 April 2004
Dead Again is an absolutely amazing film! To call it anything less would be a complete insult.The film is so multi layered in charachter development, story growth and my god those fantastic twists and some truly winning and believable performances. Where have thrillers and films like this gone. They kept you up at night and got your adrenaline going. You didn't know what was happeneing until exactly the end and the tension building up was gratifying without the brilliant and dead on conclusion. where have they gone? Emma Thompson stars as a beautiful amnesia victim whom awakes in catholic shelter suffering from violent nightmares. Kenneth Brannagh stars as Mike Church a detective who becomes smitten with her and decides to help to find her identity. He enlists the help of a psychic and through those sessions they discover her past life and how she was murdered and how it's now relaying to her recent one. Now it's up to them to discover the facts before history tries to repeat itself.
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one of his best
cgflames26 February 2005
So you know, I own this movie in both VHS and DVD format. I lend out my VHS to anyone I can get to watch this movie.

I have seen many of Kenneth's movies, for me this is his best. Many others easily come to mind that are fantastic, but for me the two story lines and the mixing together of the two is incredible.

It is different, I was spellbound from the suspense most of the movie. I wanted it to end so I could know if everything works out, but then wanted it to go on and on.

If you like suspense, this movie is for you. The language is a little on the strong side at times, but not too much and appropriate to the characters and story.
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And again.. and again,, and again.
sol19 July 2005
***SPOILERS*** Modern Film-Noir murder mystery that covers 42 years,1948-1990, and two lifetimes. Grace, Emma Thompson,has been in this Catholic sanitarium, Saint Audrey's, since she was found wandering aimlessly on the streets of L.A. With the church not being able to keep or care for her any longer due to her deteriorating mental condition the church's administrator Father Thimothy, Richard Easton,calls a former parishioner Private eye Mike Church, Kenneth Branagh. Church is to find out just who this Grace, a name given to her by the church, really is.

Putting an ad in the local L.A newspapers Church is immediately contacted by antique dealer Franklin Madson, Derek Jacobi. Madson dabbles in the occult and is experienced in the science of past-life regression; regressing persons back to their past lives through hypnosis. Madson puts Grace into a trance and regresses her back in time. It's then that Grace claims that in her previous existence she was a woman named Margrate Struss back in 1949. It was back then in 1949 that she was murdered by her husband Roman. Roman was a failing Hollywood musical composer and with his money, that he inherited from his first wife back in Germany, gone he was just about to have a nervous breakdown. Romans also suspected that Margaret was cheating on him by having an affair with newspaper reporter Gray Baker, Andy Garcia. One evening Roman just lost it and took out a pair of scissors brutally murdering Margaret.

This amazing revelation, by Grace, is later confirmed through old newspapers clippings that also brought out that not only was there a Margaret and Roman Struss, back in L.A in 1948-49, but that she was also brutally murdered by her husband Roman.

Mike and his assistant Pete(Wayne Knight), who later in the film makes one of the most jolting as well as unsuspecting guest appearances in motion picture history, get in touch with former psychiatrist and now grocery store owner Cozy Carlisle, Robin Williams, an expert in past-life regression. Cralisle, who was drummed out of his profession for having sex with one of his patients, tells them that past-life regressions do in fact have some truth to them and what Grace has been saying under hypnosis could very well have happened to her in a past life.

The movie then takes on an almost supernatural angle to it and as its story slowly starts unfolding it becomes apparent to everyone that Grace is telling the truth but there's only one slight misrepresentation in her story! Grace wasn't Margrate Struss in her previous existence and the person who was wasn't murdered by Roman! There are surprises galore in this movie about murder madness and reincarnation and an ending that will surly blow you, like almost everyone else watching it, away.

The movie is so well put together that your never allowed, by it's writer and director, to realize exactly what's going on until almost the very last five or so minutes. It's then where the truth about Grace/Margrate suddenly explodes right in your face leaving you, like it did both Grace & Mike Church, in a state of shock.

Crossing different lives and time periods "Dead Again" in its concluding moments comes to a startling and paranormal rendezvous. It's at that point when the past suddenly catches up with the present and the mind boggling results of that time/space related conjunction become truly astonishing.
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Disjointed, messy
matunos22 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I caught this on HBO the other night. I have to go against the grain here and say that I found the movie good enough to keep me watching once I had invested some time in it, but barely. Of course it has a (now) star-studded cast, and that wasn't really its weakness.


I found the plot to be all over the place. It severely tested my suspension of disbelief. Okay, the premise is one of past lives (in which two people are somehow reincarnated into spitting images of their former selves who both live in the same city along with their original antagonists) and hypnotic regression... I can live with that for the sake of the story. But from there the plot continues to test my credulity with increasingly ridiculous, and mostly pointless events and twists:

  • Why would Franklyn risk regressing Grace in Mike's presence, thinking that she is was his former victim (hence the whole reason he approached the two himself)? What if she immediately recalled the events as they actually happened? She might not finger his present self, but she would know the truth, the dots would be easy to connect, and the whole plot would be thrown off.

  • While there may have been subtle clues dropped as to the actual reincarnation identities beforehand, the whole switcheroo came off to me as a late-breaking addition, and regardless, it ultimately led nowhere. It did not impact the outcome at all and basically seemed to be an excuse to get Robin William's character in another scene. Whoever was who in the past, Franklyn was still the antagonist. And as for the memories, if Grace was actually Roman, then why was she having nightmares of being stabbed in the throat with scissors? Why was she unable to speak at the beginning of the movie, and petrified of letting people into her bedrooms when she slept? Not every dream sequence of hers fell into this category (e.g. only Roman could remember the walk to the electric chair); they're just jumbled up (why would Grace remember rebuking Inga?). To maintain suspension of belief, I need some semblance of internal consistency.

  • Speaking of Robin William's character, at first Dr. Carlisle implies that these sorts of past lives are rare, or at least, it is rare to uncover them in hypnosis (or was rare for him to anyway). Yet, later on, he seems to be an expert in the matter, explaining how gender swapping reincarnations happen all the time.

  • Mike brought Grace the anklet he recovered from Franklyn's store, and that became a symbol to her of the truth of their identities. But wouldn't the anklet have more of an emotional impact on Mike, seeing as how he was the one who was actually Margaret?

Some lesser plot holes, which are common movie tropes, but (a) I expect better from a director of Branaugh's caliber (even in 1991), and (b) they reach a crescendo right at the climax, making it more of a farce to me than a drama:

  • How is it that Mike was shot, unconscious, non-responsive and near death one moment, and the next he is not only alert, but able to engage in hand-to-hand combat with Franklyn?

  • Why the hell was Newman delivering a pizza to Grace's apartment in the middle of the night, when earlier it was clear she wasn't expecting anyone? Maybe I missed something there, but that just seemed so random, I didn't know whether to laugh or shout at the screen (I did both).

  • The climactic, slow-motion, emotional showdown was just silly.

All in all, I think if the movie were presented as a dramedy, it could have sold me. But it took itself far too seriously despite the numerous "what the?!" moments. Somebody should have switched gears in editing.
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oh, I really like this movie!
thisisyourlife17 July 2003
I just finished watching "Dead Again" for the second time, and I really dig it. It's a well-made thriller, and Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were always great together. It has an interesting story, a couple of good jump moments, and good supporting performances from Robin Williams and whatshisname who played Newman on "Seinfeld". The Hitchcock homage isn't overdone, and there are some nicely-placed visual clues (although one of them is far too obvious, the others are more subtle), as well as little references to other films the actors have been in before. Derek Jacobi is soooo good at being slimy, and the entire end sequence is tense and well-edited. That said, the big twist toward the end of the movie does poke a couple of plot holes, and causes some real loss of tension at the end of the movie- placing the big revelation much closer to the end might have made a big difference in the division of opinions about this movie. Either way, it's pretty enjoyable- well worth renting on a rainy night.
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Overlooked Branagh Gem
stiv-714 January 2000
I didn't catch this one until it hit a discount theatre in Miami Beach, but I'm glad I did. Whatever the status of Branagh and Thompson's relationship at the time, they project a fantastic chemistry as lovers karmically doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again, or so we are led to believe. Branagh has a fantastic directorial sense, honed in his years with Shakespearian theatre, and the intertwining of black-and white and colour footage to evoke different time periods works to great effect. Supporting players Derek Jacobi, Robin Williams, and Andy Garcia put in excellent performances, and the serviceable plot is made transcendant by this fine group of actors. Although some of the gore is a bit heavy, it doesn't overwhelm the story, something Branagh learned no doubt from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and like the works of Hitchcock, even after the mystery is finally sorted out, the film continues to reward with repeat viewings. So, if the last copy of Blair Witch is out, and you're looking for a bit of suspense that isn't all blood and guts, give this one a try. You'll feel enlightened.
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Dead Again
Jackson Booth-Millard30 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There are moments in this that are pretty good, and some bits that are a bit confusing, but together this is an okay film. Kenneth Branagh used to be Roman Strauss, and murdered is wife Margaret (Branagh's wife, back then, Emma Thompson). It looks like he's putting on an American accent when he talks to everyone, and he could be planning another murder or something. But towards the end and through the film, you discover that Mike Church (Branagh) really is American, and that he and Grace (Thompson) have somehow swapped bodies after death. Also starring Andy Garcia as Gray Baker, Robin Williams as Doctor Cozy Carlisle, BAFTA nominated Sir Derek Jacobi as Franklyn Madson and Wayne Knight as 'Piccolo' Pete Dugan. It was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Original Score for Patrick Doyle. Worth watching!
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Good & Bad Of Dead Again
ccthemovieman-122 March 2006
I found a number of both good and bad things about this film, but that's because of my beliefs. Overall, most people, I think, would enjoy this. Here's a few brief comments, which I don't except will be well-received, but.....

The GOOD - It's always a treat to see Emma Thompson on the silver screen, especially when she plays her '40s "Margaret" character in this film. The most interesting character in here, though, is her real-life husband (at that time), Kenneth Branagh. Lots of tension in this movie, too, that keeps your attention.

THE BAD - The story centers around a total belief in re-incarnation, doing everything it can to validate those beliefs. Also, there are a few major holes in the story and there's a corny ending, action-wise.
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Excellent Movie with Twists
moufus7 December 2002
This was the first movie I saw with Kenneth Branaugh and Emma Thompson and I loved their on-screen chemistry. LOVED the movie! If you have not seen it, rent it. I had never heard of it and rented it. Lots of plot twists and the love story is unique. I felt very connected to the characters - good character development. Fun little mystery, too.
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A treat thriller for those fascinated by the possibility of metempsychosis.
Deusvolt19 April 2006
This is a good movie to share with family or friends huddled around a TV on a cold dark night. That's how I saw it in Baguio City during the monsoon season. Emma Thompson, always a fine actress in almost all of her films, easily tugs at viewers' sympathy by subtly projecting the vulnerability of her character.

My favorite, however, is Derek Jacobi who very convincingly essays the role of a middle aged but handsome sophisticated and knowledgeable antiquarian.

I already said I liked this movie but I didn't go crazy over it. But I knew chicks, gays and generally sentimental people as well as those intrigued by esoteric spirituality would. My prediction turned out to be true. If you've seen it once, there's no sense seeing it again because by then the thrill would be gone. But if you're looking for influences of Hitchcock and other master directors of thrillers, there's fun in repeated viewings.

If you like films dealing with possible reincarnation and crime, you should also see Chances Are with Cybill Shepherd in the the lead. Hitchcock's Vertigo also comes to mind.
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Ugh... serious schlock.
T Y19 July 2009
A lousy headline montage brings us up to speed on an old murder under the credits (See Murder on the Orient Express for a superior prologue/montage). Then the story begins; a woman who has stopped talking is shopped around town (L.A.) to learn why, and who she is.

How on earth did everyone imagine this was Branagh's take on Hitchcock? He's really toying with Welles (and noir), specifically 'Mr Arkadin' with its masquerade and bearded Orson. But with viewers not knowing their history (about anything) and unable to communicate, you get misconceptions like that. And, it's a whodunit. How many whodunits did Hitch make… two? Instead Branagh wants to BE Orson Welles, and the camera work is noticeably fluid, but Welles worst movie (pick one, there are lots) has far superior lighting, compositions, tonal range and camera work. Welles was intoxicated by celluloid beauty and B&W helped him find it. Noir uses the screen so much better than this. Color makes peoples eyes lazy, as here. But it's easy to see why this cops out; the story is so surface-deep they may have concluded it couldn't support too much originality in the visuals. However, a frequently roaming camera does provide one remarkable, nice extended shot in the first hypnosis session.

Brit Branagh has no feel for L.A., and has created a bizarro L.A. that is peopled mostly by Brits; lipless Branagh, unconventional Thompson and stagebound Jacobi; both men looking doughy. The twist here is interesting but it comes about half an hour before a solution that is beneath everyone. In the end I can't tell you at all how the twist contributes anything to the conclusion. As with most movies, the more explanation that is hurriedly provided in the climax, the worse the movie gets. I can't even imagine what people think these shallow last-minute resolutions do for them. DA reminded me of the lame, forgotten Hitch-ripoffs 'The Morning After' and 'Still of the Night' with Meryl Streep. If you wrote a time machine into 'Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte' it would probably be like this.

It's too long (1:47). The plot is simply not interesting enough to drag things out half an hour beyond irritation. Already at 1:06 it feels like it should be winding down. I just wanted it to conclude. Needless developments, a hammy score... and keep your eyes peeled for the worst aging make-up ever seen in a major film.
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Very clever past and present thriller.
TxMike5 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Kenneth Branagh directed and starred as 1940s Roman Strauss and 1990s detective Mike Church. He is one of the few Brits that can assume a very authentic American accent, which he does for the Mike Church character. His co-star is fellow Brit Emma Thompson who plays the British Margaret Strauss and the American Grace. The story involves a possible connection between a murder in 1949 and present day characters. "Grace" shows up at an orphanage unable to talk or remember who she is. Pretty entertaining thriller. And Branagh is especially good.

SPOILERS. We learn early that Margaret Strauss was murdered and her husband, composer Roman Strauss was convicted and sentenced to death. Gray Baker (Andy Garcia) was the newspaper man who we see Strauss apparently whispering in his ear right before his execution. Near the end we find out that he didn't actually whisper anything, instead he simply kissed Baker on the cheek. We also find that the murderer was a deranged young boy who was the son of the maid. He grew up to be Frankie, an antique dealer. As the story develops we begin to suspect that Mike is the reincarnation of Roman (same actor in both roles) and Grace is the reincarnation of Margaret (same actress). However, in actually the reincarnations are crossed, Mike is actually the reincarnation of Margaret and he gets the revenge of the murdered Margaret by besting Frankie. Of course, Mike and Grace, who were in love in earlier lives, rekindle their love although with cross gender tendencies. Interesting! Robin Williams has a small role as a former shrink.
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Mediocre at best
Superunknovvn18 December 2006
Kenneth Branagh's second work as a director is a very lukewarm effort. The main problem lies with the flawed story but the movie has got a rather cheap and dated look, too.

The script is full of plot holes, forced mysteries, riddles that are thrown in to keep the viewer puzzled but don't really make any sense at all. It also seems rather goofy how quickly the concept of reincarnation and karma is accepted as a fact by virtually everyone in the movie. The relations of the individual characters are also far fetched and don't really make any sense. Up to the showdown with it's unintentionally funny and over the top slow motion ballyhoo, "Dead Again" never manages to grip the viewer. The occasional funny elements don't help, either.

Is this a comedy, a drama, a romance or a mystery? "Dead Again" seems more like a parody at times with it's goofy black and white story lines in the past. It's a failed attempt at paying tribute to Hitchcock and the whole film noir genre. "Dead Again" proved that Branagh might be a master when it comes to bringing Shakespeare to the screen, but he has no idea what mainstream cinema is about.
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Layers in Time
tedg8 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Branaugh is an intelligent director, and intelligent directors today are concerned with simultaneous visions of resonant levels. The standard layers are the story and the modern reflections on the story. Branaugh handles this expertly by casting the effort in noir and then dancing around the form. But that's not new.

What he adds is the simultaneous overlay of time. So he has himself and Emma as filmmakers, them as actors, them as the contemporary characters, and the older characters, each weaving and bobbing in and out of each other. This is the kind of thing that Branaugh does exceedingly well because he can control from both directions, actor pushing multiple characters and director pulling different views and times.

My only problem with the film is the underlying purpose. Branaugh makes some films with the serious intent of moving us. Then he spends a bunch of time just having fun experimenting. We don't get much from this film because the boss isn't very interested in sending us much. And it is a little offensive to open our souls and be ignored.

Also, one mourns the breakup of this great team.
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Entertaining but not as good as Henry V
zintar200131 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Whoa! I was pretty surprised by the comments on this movie, everyone either LOVED it or HATED it! I have to confess I fall somewhere in between. I remember enjoying it when I first saw it at the now-gone Loew's Oriental, a nice old-fashioned theater perfect for such an old fashioned movie. Although I found it not as impressive as Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, I still enjoyed it. The acting for the most part seemed a bit over the top, but that seemed to be in keeping with the rather far-fetched story. I didn't really try to second guess the story, so I didn't figure out the plot twists. And what it lacked in suspense it made up for with imaginative story elements. My biggest complaint was that it appeared that the screenwriter had watched Citizen Kane and Spellbound once too often.

I have just watched my laser disc version tonight for probably the second time, and although I still enjoyed it, I noticed some rather nit-picky plot points. Be warned--There may be some SPOILERS ahead!

When Mike Church finally meets with Gray Baker, and receives a "shocking revelation," it occurred to me that strangely enough, no one bother to ask earlier whatever happened to the housekeeper and her son! Also, Roman Strauss the composer finds his money running low, but he refuses to compose for movies, preferring to just write his opera. I figured him for a smart man and smart enough to know movies are where the money is--couldn't he just write his opera on the side and compose for movies for the money? It certainly would have put less strain on the marriage.

I must confess I enjoyed the performances. Mr. Branagh seemed to be having fun as both Church and Strauss, and it was refreshing to see a PI who was not a superman like the kind of characters Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger usually play. My feeling is that after the intensity of Henry V, Branagh wanted to play (and direct) something lighter. Emma Thompson as Margaret and "Grace" is both fetching and elegant as the former, and demure yet adorable as the latter. One of the better scenes involves Mike taking Grace on a little date where nothing goes right. It's one of the few scenes that's not played over the top and comes off rather charming.

I read in one comment that Derek Jacobi was considered for the part of Hannibal Lechter. I would have loved to see him play that part! His performance is bouncy and almost comic, yet in an instant he can become coldly sinister. He certainly fooled me until the end (the first time, anyway). I and liked how they worked in that little "I, Claudius" reference.

I could have done without the guy from Seinfeld, but I can see how they needed such a character to give the audience story elements. I did enjoy Robin Williams, whom I usually cannot stand, but here he departs from the kind of annoying "I'm better and funnier than everyone else" characters I usually see him play. In keeping with the outlandishness of the rest of the movie, Andy Garcia's reporter does his best to stand out as a Hunter S. Thompson type reporter. Too bad though we never see him at a typewriter. His old man scene is another ripoff from Citizen Kane, and he looks too much like an old Henry Winkler than an old Andy Garcia, but his smoking scene is a nice creepy touch.

On a technical level, the cinematography is a treat. It's lush and elegant in the black and white scenes, and, well, light and airy and not too obtrusive in the contemporary scenes. It's a little too dark and atmospheric in the antique shop, where the "hypno-therapy" sessions take place, but again it's in keeping with the "fantasy" element of the reincarnation theme.

Also in keeping with the "over the top" feel of the film is Patrick Doyle's music, exciting at times while other times it sounds too powerful for minor scenes. It does have a nice feel of excitement to it, and it would have been nice to see him work on the recent Bond films.

So overall, a fairly entertaining bit of fluff, which I at least didn't take too seriously. I was hoping though that Branagh would move on to more substantial material, but alas, he instead did Peter's Friends and the atrocious Francis Ford Coppola's--I mean Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.
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Dead at the end
Altaira24 July 1999
Dead Again is a hammy name for a melodramatic farce. I never would have rented it, but I saw its trailer on another video and thought it looked interesting. That it is, but I found myself losing interest and faith in the last half-hour. (I will not reveal it, for there IS a good plot twist leading up to it.)

Dead Again sports many familiar faces: Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson (real life husband-and-wife), Wayne Knight (Newman in a reincarnation flick??!), and even Robin Williams (who knew?) Branagh is especially charming as Roman--his meeting with pianist Margaret while madly directing the symphony is memorable. But although Dead Again serves up some very inventive, creative moments, the final scene was hideously overdone and much too melodramatic. The slow motion sequences never settle well with me, and here they only highlighted the incredulity.

However, Roger Ebert gave Dead Again four stars, so many people will enjoy it. I did, up until that unbelievable finale. Afterwards I did get to thinking (and I say a movie is only good if it makes you think.) So if "fate" really determines who we meet, who we will spend eternity with, and we DO have multiple incarnations, then that creep who followed me around downtown last week will keep coming back, and back....and back.....???
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Gets better with repeated viewing
malteser26 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
There may be SPOILERS ...

My first impression after watching Dead Again was that it was a somewhat uneven piece of work. However, it's one of those films where you grasp more with each viewing so after watching it twice I would have to say it's a decent and enjoyable thriller.

Being a big Ken Branagh fan - particularly when he's in the director's chair - I was a bit disappointed with his direction here. He dithers between a Hitchcockian noirish style and his own trademark single shot takes, which jar badly within the claustrophobic visuals. He also seems to delight in ending every other scene with a shot of a pair of scissors - by the film's end, you'll be sick of the sight of them. On the other hand, the film's opening dream sequence is highly effective, as is the repeated cutting between both eras at the film's close.

Scott Frank's screenplay is horribly hammy in places ("Have a nice life") and wickedly funny in others ("Thank you!"). I guessed the main twist early on, though thankfully the plot has quite a few interesting turns to keep you guessing.

Pat Doyle's score, as usual, hits all the right notes in some scenes, then does its level best to dampen the atmosphere in others.

And the acting, which is good throughout. Branagh is quite charming as Roman Strauss - love that ridiculously intense conducting - and pretty good as Mike Church. He tackles two accents here, and does well with both. Emma Thompson is her usual magnetic self. Derek Jacobi's performance will leave you with a giant smile plastered across your face - it's easy to see how he was in the final shake-up to play Hannibal Lecter. Andy Garcia doesn't really DO anything, but his scene as the old Gray Baker is very good (smoking - eeeecchhh). Robin Williams is creepy, deadpan and low key, the antithesis to his usual performances. Miriam Margolyes and Campbell Scott make funny cameos.

Okay, so the final showdown is a bit ridiculous, and it's a little annoying that Mike and Grace didn't completely freak out when they saw the pictures of Roman and Margaret - but overall, this is enjoyable stuff.

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Multi-faceted film worth seeing
philip-ct14 April 2006
This is a gripping film, multi-layered, with a good script and good performances from its cast.

The story is interesting: a woman (plagued by a recurring nightmare) lands up, unable to speak, with amnesia, at a local convent. Mike Church (Branagh) must find out who she is. (We 'know', owing to black and white footage (featuring the same actors, but different characters, about 40 years ago, shortly after WW II) Through hypnotherapy, questions of reincarnation and past lives emerge.The film creates, rather than answers, questions. There are a number of twists and turns in the plot to make this film gripping.

I was not totally convinced that the ending of the film serves its purpose, but the film is gripping. Do see it.
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Confusing Story of Karmic Revenge.
Robert J. Maxwell17 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I guess it's not really "karmic" revenge. It's just plain revenge behind the murder.

Whoever wrote this piece of confusing comic/mystery/melodrama was channeling Madame Blavatsky, who apparently emerges from time to time from behind the veil of Isis.

There was a scissors murder in 1948. A composer (Branagh) was executed for the murder of his wife (Thompson). Somehow, a reporter (Garcia) seems to have been involved but he's just a red herring. Forget him.

Anyway, it's now forty years later, 1988 that is, and Emma Thompson is an amnesiac taken in by Branagh because she has no identity and nowhere to go. A hypnotist and antique dealer insinuates his way into the relationship that, as the sophisticated viewer will have already guessed, has turned physically demonstrative. The hypnotist age regresses Thompson and she begins reliving the 1948 case in which she was the victim.

Branagh, a fundamentally decent guy, consults Robin Williams, an ex shrink who now runs a Carniceria. (This is Los Angeles.) Williams explains all about karma to Branagh and advises him to kill Thompson before she kills him. The two are reliving the 1948 murder only the genders are reversed.

But Williams is a red herring too. The whole business about karma is a red herring. And at the end, when the villain tries to murder Thompson with a pair of antique scissors -- hint, hint -- that's a lot of baloney too because Thompson has no connection with the earlier murder, as far as it's possible to tell. She just happens to be a lady who lost her memory and came up with these weird stories under hypnosis.

What a fine cast. Kenneth Branagh looks young and innocent but isn't really convincing in this relatively light part. I haven't seen his renditions of Shakespeare. Emma Thompson is a splendid actress and looks very appealing without being in the least sultry and certainly not Hollywood gorgeous. She has the open, wide-eyed, innocent features of a loving pet dog, some kind of miniature. Not a poodle, though. More like a happy-go-lucky terrier, one of those pets that's always wagging its tail and has its tongue hanging out of its mouth, maybe poised and hoping you'll toss a tennis ball. Andy Garcia has sleek features, is an underused performer, and should choose his parts more carefully. All of them live in those pretentious mansions of Southern California except for Jacobi and his dear mother, who are consigned to one of those cluttered little spaces out of Dickens' "The Old Curiosity Shop." If anyone can make sense out of this underlighted mish mosh, will he please let me know? I need some hints too, you know.
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Shakespeare, it ain't
Michael Neumann13 November 2010
In the follow up to his acclaimed 'Henry V', actor-director Kenneth Branagh trades high culture for low rent thrills, playing an LA detective hired to learn the identity of a mute amnesia victim (Emma Thompson) suffering nightmares of a much publicized murder case from the late 1940s. Is she the reincarnation of the victim? And has her killer also been reincarnated as her detective/lover? The paranormal hook, with the entire cast playing their earlier selves in flashback, adds an entertaining twist to the otherwise cheap but lively whodunit scenario. And Branagh, perhaps wanting to prove himself a real Hollywood filmmaker, doubles the fun by pitching the action and performances to the edge of hysteria. His phony California accent is no more convincing than his broad directorial flourishes (note the use of TV-style close-ups, even in the black and white retro-noir flashbacks), but the film never pretends to be anything more than what it is: silly, sub-Hitchcock fluff for a not quite jaded summertime crowd.
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The Ridiculous part was the reincarnation ruin the suspense-mystery story
BatBanks Smith4 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Dead Again is suspense mystery about a L.A. Detective (played by Kenneth Branagh also directed) tried to help a amnesia woman (played by than-wife Emma Thompson) to find her memory but she keep having nightmares. He get help by an eccentric antiques dealer and hypnotist (Derek Jacobi) to find out what cause her nightmare and they discover that they reincarnation of a famous composer and his pianist wife whom the husband is accused of murdering her in the 1940s.

Dead Again is a slow movie and got dumber and dumber. The movie references to Hitchcock classics such as "Rebecca", "Vertigo", "Spellbound", and "Dial M for Murder". The acting was all right with Robin Williams in small role as the once psychiatrist that ended up in the supermarket. Emma Thompson tried to use an American accent but you still hear her English accent. And the film keeps giving away story and had no plot twist, Branagh character was suppose be a smart detective and should figure out the mystery and should've figure out the murderer. Things got stupid when the husband who's jealous and suspicion that his wife being unfaithful and a little boy that is angry that he didn't love his mother take the blame for the wife, stupid. With the unnecessary reincarnation plot that had the antiques dealer thinking it going to happen again and I can't blame Kenneth for that he should said "We here to help her get her memory/identity back not a 40-something murder or reincarnation of a couple because she look-like the lady!" The ending was stupid too were everybody is in her apartment looking stupid and crazy. I like how Branagh cast other English actors beside him and Emma because he wants America to known them. The story needs rewrites and a waste of good actors in this, this should have been done with amateur actors not them.
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