In 1960s New York, Walter Stackhouse is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara who leads a seemingly perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer and an overambitious detective, while at the same time lusting after another woman.
A psychological noir thriller set in 1960's New York based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, 'The Blunderer'. Walter Stackhouse is rich, successful and unhappily married to the beautiful but damaged Clara. His desire to be free of her feeds his obsession with Kimmel, a man suspected of brutally murdering his own wife. But when Clara is found dead in suspicious circumstances, Walter's string of lies and his own guilty thoughts seem enough to condemn him. As his life becomes dangerously entwined with Kimmel's, a ruthless cop is increasingly convinced he has found a copycat killer in Walter and aims to nail both murderers.
Patrick Wilson is a two-time Tony Award winner who bears, at certain angles, a resemblance to Paul Newman. He has enjoyed a very good career. But if he doesn't stay away from films like this, I fear for him.
"A Kind of Murder" takes place in 1960 and actually begins in a movie theater where "Butterfield 8" is being shown. A Chevrolet commercial can be heard from the screen; I'm not familiar enough with the film to say it took place in the movie, nor am I aware of commercials being shown in theaters, but I found it odd.
The story concerns two men, architect and some time writer Walter Stackhouse (Wilson) and a bookstore owner, Marty Kimmel (Eddie Marsan). Kimmel's wife is murdered and found near a tavern, and an aggressive cop, Laurence Corby (Vincent Kartheiser) is positive Kimmel is the killer. However, a young man has given him an alibi - he and Kimmel were both in the theater to see Butterfield 8 at the same time.
Then Walter's wife Clara (Jessica Biel), a beautiful but deeply disturbed and unhappy woman, winds up dead in the same location. Both women had taken the same bus, which stopped near the tavern. Walter, tired of Clara being neurotic, had told her he wanted a divorce. She threatened suicide, then left abruptly to be with her sick mother.
Detective Corby harasses both men mercilessly, and when he finds out that Stackhouse has clippings of the Kimmel murder as a resource for the writing he does on the side, he doubles up the harassment.
I'm not sure why this was set in 1960 except that it was based on a Patricia Highsmith novel probably written then. I wonder if the screenwriter (or Highsmith) realized that the Fourth Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1790 so that Corby could not have walked into Stackhouse's home and started going through his house without a warrant. And what idiots allow such harassment and never retain an attorney?
The film had some atmosphere but was slow and dull. It took forever to get to the plot. Now, modern screen writing demands this. I have no problem waiting for the point of the movie if the film is moving along. This one didn't.
Patricia Highsmith was a wonderful mystery writer, but she wasn't perfect. I haven't read her novel but somehow I feel it had to have been better than this.
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