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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Dead Again (1991)



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Dead Again is one of those rare cinematic joys that does everything right and then some. I've seen it many times, and I notice more artful touches with every viewing. It's mystery thriller romance, if one must pigeonhole it so, but it's more concerned with the characters than with artificial shocks, scares, or sentiment, and consequently the film rings truer and stays with us longer. It's composed of sweeping, dramatic gestures, with wry subtlety infused within. The music and cinematography and gothic sets are lively and haunting. The story takes place both in the present and in the glamorous past of the late 1940s. A woman is haunted by memories not her own. I say no more.

There aren't many films, if any at all, that evoke quite the same tone, navigate such a labyrinthine plot so confidently and concisely that it appears simple, and so consistently avoid cheap action interludes in favor of greater rewards. It reminds me of the best of Hitchcock's romance thrillers: it isn't just a story, although an exciting, surprising story it is; it's atmosphere, feeling, destiny. The film never once falters in exploring and building upon this delicate fabric.