Th!nkFilm // 2007 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // December 16th, 2007
Seduce and Destroy
Ahh, the psychological thriller: the genre home to such movies as Memento, Insomnia and Body Heat. The best of these lead the viewer down the rabbit hole, into a dark and twisting world where nothing is as it seems.
And then there's Deceit.
Dave (Matt Long), Emily (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Brian (Luke Mably) are good friends, the best of friends even. But after college Dave moves away and they go their separate ways, until they're all brought back together by a funeral.
Emily and Brian are married now, but all is not as it appears in their not-so-happy lives. Dave tries to figure out just what's going between the two of them and is drawn more and more into a world of lies. And deceit. Lots and lots of deceit.
Deceit tries very hard to be clever. It has a femme fatale, hidden motivations, secret plans and betrayal. But it falls flat with everything that it tries to do.
The characters aren't worthy of the machinations that are being thrust onto them. Dave, our brave, stupid hero, does nothing right. He allows himself to be lead by the nose from the first moment we see him. There is no attempt to flesh him out and he comes across as a jerk and a rube. He commits numerous acts of moral depravity throughout the movie with very little reason for doing so. But he's supposed to be the nice guy who's being manipulated.
Dave also suffers from bizarre seizure inducing flashbacks which arrive approximately once every twenty minutes. These flashbacks do nothing except remind the audience what just happened thirty seconds ago, except with strobe lights and a red filter.
Emily is our unknown element. Is she telling the truth or isn't she? There are vague warnings given by other characters that Emily is not everything she appears.
But there's nothing here to really make the audience care. Emily, Dave and Brian are half formed shadows of characters. Brian is a millionaire, he drinks and he's from London. That's all we're ever really given about him. Dave is in law school and he loves Emily. Apparently that's all we need to know for him as well. Emily has even less back story than those two, in an attempt to make her more mysterious. We're never given anything to make us care about the main characters, which give us no reason to get involved in their mysterious ways.
They're nothing more than clichés. There's even the standard "I know more than I'm telling you" character, as provided by Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix). He's there to provide cryptic warnings about Emily and not much else. In fact, at one point he goes off screen to do something and then never returns. When a character just drops off the face of the Earth, there's a problem.
But almost more damaging than the plot and the characters is the soundtrack. For the first thirty minutes or so, the soundtrack is overpowering, almost drowning out the soft dulcet tones of the actors. With a movie that's almost all about the characters and their sinister designs upon one another, it's kind of important to hear what they're saying.
And of course, Deceit has to put in the obligatory plot twist. It's one of those plot twists that succeeds in surprising the viewer, but only because it's completely random and makes no sense. It adds nothing to the overall plot and, in fact, it makes the story that much more contrived and hard to believe.
There's only one extra, aside from the trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette that's nothing really special. The transfer is fine, there's nothing to complain about there.
Deceit's plot is a mess, a convoluted twisted series of threads that don't really go anywhere interesting.
Deceit is guilty. No mysterious agendas. No secrets or lies. No mistaken identities, wrongfully accused men or framed women. Just flat out guilty.
Review content copyright © 2007 Dylan Charles; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Behind the Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer