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Slick and stylish Hitchcock update
The_Void31 October 2005
I went into A Perfect Murder expecting to enjoy it, but I recognised the fact that I wouldn't be in for a great film. To be honest, I love thrillers like this as they offer a solid two hours (or so) of non-too taxing entertainment, and what's not to like about that? A Perfect Murder is an update of the Hitchcock classic 'Dial M For Murder', and while the film doesn't touch Hitchcock's in terms of how thrilling it is, this update has been well handled and despite losing things such as the claustrophobia and the tight plot, A Perfect Murder still does what you'd expect it to do. The plot has become more expansive for this update, but the filmmakers have still managed to keep it tight so that the plot is focused mainly on the characters as opposed to the actual crime. The plot follows a rich man (Michael Douglas) who discovers that his trophy wife (Gweneth Paltrow) is having an affair with an artist (Viggo Mortensen). When his business affairs start to go awry, he decides to commit the perfect murder so that he can inherit his wife's trust fund. However, as all of us Hitchcock fans know; there's no such thing as the perfect murder.

Michael Douglas was the absolute perfect choice for this role. He may get typecast as the slimy businessman often, but he does it so well! You can really believe that he wants to kill his wife. Gweneth Paltrow, who is often solid but never outstanding; and Viggo Mortensen, who is actually a good actor, join him and make up the three-piece central cast. Mortensen's performance here isn't awesome; but it's good, and hints at the sort of stuff that would be to come - such as a great turn in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Like most nineties thrillers, this one is very stylishly shot and there's a focus on the more steamy elements of the story. The locations used aptly convey the groups within society that the characters belong to and the film does a good job of setting its scenes. The central set piece is well executed, and the build up to it is well done also; but it has to be said that the film starts to fall apart a little after that. Still, A Perfect Murder never becomes boring and even during it's down time; the film still manages to be thrilling. As mentioned, this isn't as great as Hitchcock's version - but as modern remakes go - this certainly isn't a bad one, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.
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Starts promisingly...falls apart in the final third
smerph23 May 2011
It may be more credible to cite Psycho or Vertigo as your favourite Hitchcock, but my particular preference has always been Dial M for Murder. Sure, it's dated far more than a lot of Hitch's films, but it's still a tightly written and intelligent movie; Ray Milland playing a gentlemanly yet murderous businessman who plots to have his wife killed when he discovers she's having an affair and plans to leave him.

A Perfect Murder, the 1998 remake, is a very different beast with different motivations and some major changes to how the plot plays out. This time, it's Michael Douglas whose wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) is playing away from home but, in a move from the source material, it's her ex-con lover who is hired to do the murder.

Despite this deviation, the machinations of the murder plot from the original film are near-identical. A phone call home, a missing key, the supposed disturbed robbery, the would-be killer killed in self-defence...that's all Dial M. And, because of this, the first third of the film bounces along at a great pace.

Into Act 2 and things are still promising with the introduction of David Suchet as the investigating detective. Suchet is a wonderful actor and his first scene holds much potential and evokes memories of John Williams's memorable turn as Detective Hubbard in Dial M. Suchet's Detective Karaman seems smart as a tack and asks awkward questions of our protagonists. And then, inexplicably, the character all but vanishes from the movie without doing any further detecting. In fact, the big reveal of the murder is actually just down to the wife simply snooping through her husband's clumsily-hidden evidence, rather than anyone actually pursuing a line of enquiry.

As a result, the final third is really just our three main characters lying and and cheating. While it's fun to watch Douglas worm his way out of things by repeatedly changing his story, it all leads to a frankly barmy climax where the bodies start to pile up.

I guess A Perfect Murder is more interested in its characters than the tightly woven plot of Dial M, but the original film had charm that this sorely lacks. While Dial M may not seem realistic in its characters' motivations or the generally breezy tone, it's by far the better movie.
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Not Perfect At All
Steve-17618 October 1998
A Perfect Murder is a lot better than I thought it would be, probably because of the smart direction from director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Chain Reaction, Under Siege). Given a fairly involved script and an action film, (never mind the dialogue, just cut quickly to the next scene) shooting scheme, Davis has concocted a mainstream thriller that works quite well. A Perfect Murder is based on a middle rated Hitchcock film which was in turn based on a hit Broadway play called Dial M For Murder. Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas, in part revisiting Wall Street's Gordon Gecko) is in financial strife and decides to knock Emily his wife off to grab her money. She's played by the hapless Gwyneth Paltrow. Hubby blackmails his wife's lover (Viggo Mortensen) to do the dirty deed. This film is ferociously mainstream. The music chimes in just so. The bathrobe disappears just so. Michael Douglas plays Michael Douglas to perfection, Paltrow is protected from any line more than fifteen words long, but still A Perfect Murder is never boring. The original Hitchcock version starred Ray Miland and Grace Kelly. There weren't any mobile phones and the wife wasn't screwing the killer. And then there was Grace Kelly rather than Gwyneth Paltrow in that old film. I know who I'd prefer.
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I love this movie! Creative, artsy, and many cliffhangers
VigtoriousPainter7 June 2004
Micheal Douglas (Steven) and Gwenyth Paltrow (Emily) are a married couple. Emily falls in love and has an affair with a young painter, David Shaw (Mortensen). Hiding the affair and making a tense move, Emily is put in the position to tell Steven or not. One way or another Steven has a plan, a plan to murder his own wife....with a little help from the someone else.

I really love this movie. I try to watch it as much as possible. In this movie it is set to the level of Micheal Douglas's creepy and insanity side of his acting. He scared me so much that I didn't feel comfortable about seeing this for the first time. Gwenyth Paltrow on the other hand, plays a very innocent and lovely role. She really doesn't have a clue what Steven and David are up to in this twisting thriller. Viggo is absolutely excellent in this movie. He gave an outstanding role and put another character on my favorite list. This is a very good movie and I recommend this movie to Alfred Hitchcock and mystery/murder fans. I would rate this 10/10
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fattie-the-hippo21 November 1999
Warning: Spoilers
A stunning remake of the 1954 Hitchcock Classic ,"Dial M for Murder"-"A perfect murder" is a brilliant piece.

Emily Bradford (Gwyneth Paltrow) is sleeping with Artist David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen).Her husband,much older than her-Steven Taylor (played by Michael Douglas) knows but is not letting on. Steven hires David to kill her,and organises the perfect murder.However David hires a hitman.

Things go wrong when the hitman is killed by Emily.Steven must find a way to turn things to his advantage.But Emily is discovering things on her own and David isn't helping.....

A thrilling piece of cinema-Paltrow,Douglas and Mortensen make this a wonderful work-not to be msised.

If you've seen this,Dial M for Murder is not bad either.
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Nothing is perfect.
Streetwolf31 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I actually liked this movie, but the ending was bad.

Summary: Steven Taylor and Emily have been married for quite some time yet Emily feels trapped and controlled by Steven so she seeks comfort in the arms of David, a broke artist with a hidden past. Steven knows about the affair yet Emily has no idea that he knows. Steven approaches David and lets him know that he knows everything about David's past and then blackmails him. He pays 100 grand and tells David he will pay another 400 grand after the job is done. What job? Oh, for killing Emily, his wife. David accepts and Steven tells him how to murder Emily and it sounds flawless until Emily manages to kill the intruder in her home and at Steven's surprise, it's not David!

In such cases as these where rich people get married, I understand why there should be a pre-nuptial agreement! The movie is a great thriller yet it lacks....something. Viggo Mortensen was David, the lover who does love Emily but loves money more. Michael Douglas, the loving yet control freak husband Steven, whose empire is falling apart and the only option he has is to kill his wife played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who works for the UN, speaks a few languages but is dumb as a doorbell when it comes to the men in her life.

I rate this 7/10, the movie has lots of great twists and so on, but I saw only Michael Douglas making a real effort in this movie. Viggo was great too, but Gwyneth seems so confused through out this movie.
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Imperfect remake of clever stage thriller...
Doylenf11 October 2002
Hitchcock's DIAL M FOR MURDER was based on the Frederick Knott play of the same name. A PERFECT MURDER takes elements from the play, makes alterations in scenes and characters, changes the ending, and in attempting to modernize the whole thing has added some extra gore to the proceedings so today's audiences won't feel cheated. And yet, the result is not only distinctly disappointing, but inferior.

Only fans of Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Douglas will relish their performances in this pale rehash of the original material. The complexity of "the key under the stairmat" which was so effectively played out in the Hitchcock film is entirely missing here. The detective work so fascinating in the original play and film is also gone despite the fact that he is played by David Suchet (in a very underwritten role). In short: none of the revisions are any improvement. Nor does Viggo Mortensen impress as Paltrow's lover.

Those who haven't seen the movie or the play DIAL M FOR MURDER will no doubt find some of this absorbing enough--but anyone able to make a comparison is bound to be disappointed. I'll take Ray Milland-Grace Kelly-Robert Cummings under Hitchcock's direction any day over a misguided Paltrow and Douglas under Andrew Davis' direction.

As for the comments of the viewer who said, "Who's Hitchcock?", please...spare me your review.
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Too many plot holes to be a good thriller
bhcpc13 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
A fine cast (Douglas, Paltrow, Mortensen, Suchet) was wasted in this feeble attempt. There were simply too many illogical holes to ignore and at the end you will feel cheated. I'll list just a few as examples. I would encourage you read on, so you may save your money and go rent Hitchcock's original instead.


1. David was just a con artist, so what made Steven think he could be turned into a hired killer?. Sure enough it didn't work, did it?

2. In fact, David as a con artist was much more likely to try blackmail. Sure enough, David tapped the incriminating conversation. Now that he had the tape, he could easily get $400K (or even more) from Steven. So why bother to kill (or contract out some thug to kill) Emily at all?? This is totally ABSURD. David just wanted to con some money and get out of town as he always did, with no incentive to kill his lover at this stage.

3. When detective Karaman mentioned the missing key, Emily said nothing and went into Latino slum and tried to play detective herself. It just does not make any sense. Emily obviously would not protect Steven at that point since she not only didn't love him anymore but also had a reasonable belief that the thug was hired by her husband to kill her for her inheritance. Moreover, she and Karaman clearly developed a sense of mutual trust, so she logically would show Karaman the missing key and let him do the investigation (after all he's a police).

4. The explanation Steven tried to spin on Emily about the missing key did not make sense at all. He claimed he took the key, put it on Emily's key chain and jammed the door lock because he thought the thug was David getting in with Emily's key and he tried to protect Emily's reputation. Then, he claimed the thug turned out to be just a burglar. Well, if that thug did not use Emily's key and did not pick the lock, how on earth he got in??


I did find one quote to be ironically hilarious. When they met at the ferry, Steven told David that they should wait and carry on business as usual. When Steven started to walk away, David asked, with a deadpan face, "Should I continue screw your wife?"
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My wife liked it
mm-3921 March 2001
This is a good movie, the more I watch it the more I like it. When I first viewed this movie I thought it was ok, but when we bought the video it began to grow on me. The acting is excellent, and the story twists along at a good pace. Douglas is a good actor and his performance alone is worth renting this film.
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A passable remake of Hicthcock's ‘Dial M for Murder'
MIKE-WILSON612 July 2001
A Perfect Murder ( a loose remake of ‘Dial M for Murder ) is a

stylish thriller in its own right ,but doesn't come close to the

original. As I remember and not to give away any of the plot, ‘Dial

‘M' is all about the key. Where it is hidden, Who knew it was there,

and who finds it. This plot line is gripping, but in ‘Perfect Murder'

this whole part of the story has been overlooked. Having said that

the film still works quite well, thanks to Michael Douglas. He really

is superb. Gwyneth Palthrow looks stunning, but David Suchet is

wasted as the detective. But where the film really falls down is the

ending. In the original the last scenes are gripping in the hunt for

the key, but for some reason director Andrew Davis sees fit to end

with the standard formula of a shoot out. Having said that the film

is still worth seeing, but if you need to watch this story, I

recommend the original.
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Plot Holes....
CraigHamrick15 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Definite Spoilers Ahead. Please don't read if you haven't seen the film yet and want to be surprised.

My biggest question -- why do directors/producers think viewers are stupid? Maybe most people just sit back and enjoy the ride...but why spend so much time and money to make a beautiful-looking movie like this, populated with some fairly good actors, and based on a good, classic story, if you don't care enough about the story to employ a thoughtful writer or two?

Anyway...this movie has too many plot holes to count, but here are the most glaring, in my opinion.

Why would Emily leave a comfortable, hot bath to answer the phone? In such a lushly appointed apartment, it's hard to believe it doesn't have an answering system or built-in voice mail. And even if it doen't, there's been no sign that it's going to ring an annoyingly long time when Emily starts moving to answer it.

Why was Steven so easily dismissed as a suspect -- just because he was "on the phone" during the attack? Of course he didn't commit the attack -- the attacker is DEAD. His having an alibi for the time of the attack does not clear him of arranging it. If he was even considered for a moment, he wasn't a suspect for committing the attack, but for planning it...and his "alibi" doesn't clear him of that.

Steven was so careful about so many parts of his "perfect murder plan" -- why would he so sloppily toss the cell phone out of his car, on his way from the poker game? If it were found (which it never was, apparently) the fact that it was on his return route would be pretty incriminating. There are plenty of places, like the East River, to toss something.

It's obvious the dead man lived in a very scary neighborhood (Emily visits and it's pretty dangerous looking) -- so we're supposed to believe the killer only used one key and had one lock on his door? I live in a nice part of New York and there are four locks between the apartment and the outside world -- but Emily was able to get into that apartment with just one key. Doubtful.

When Steven confronts Emily, it becomes a complication that there's something at the artist's loft connecting him to them: her wedding ring. Steven says he'll go get it. WHY does it matter if that connection exists? There are obviously many others they can't do anything about -- like the negatives to the photos he's just shown her; money that he's confessed to paying the artist; at least one of her friends who knows about the affair. And, he's supposedly a blackmailer, so wouldn't one assume he has some hidden "proof"? Why does it matter that the ring is in the loft? Surely, no matter what, Steven and Emily don't think they're going to be able to pretend Emily never had an affair with David!?

When Steve hands over money in Washington Square Park, David tells him the tape is a "commemerative copy" -- there's been no guarantee (that we've heard, at least) that there's no other copy of the tape. Who would assume that was the only copy??? And of course, we soon learn it wasn't.

If your husband tried to have you killed, and you had the proof (the tape), would you confront him (even with a gun in your pocket) or get the heck out and go to the police?

Of course David was recording the murder plot, when Steven laid it out at his own apartment. Why wouldn't he? If Steven was such a good planner, why would he not "shake down" David to make sure he didn't have a tape recorder? It would be in character not to trust him.

Argh! I want back the time I wasted watching this thing....
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Interesting Movie...
Magellan Grey24 January 2002
I found the film to be very interesting and smoothly executed. The acting of film veteran Michael Douglas was superb. Paltrow and Mortensen were also very smooth and a pleasure to observe. My only problem with this film was the way it ended. An editing glitch? Maybe. It was too abrupt. But all in all, a very entertaining film and an excellent use of a familiar theme-plot.

It should also be noted that Novella Nelson, who portrays Ambassador Alice Wills, is a noted songtress in her own right. I have had the pleasure of attending a few of her concerts and night club appearances in the 1970s. An excellent, sultry and sometimes fiery singer of jazz standards and R&B.
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Perfect Thriller
Luigi Di Pilla27 July 2003
Don´t miss this thriller. It's one of the best of Michael Douglas and Gwynieth Paltrow. Viggo Mortensen played his role as a villain lover very well. It was well directed by the master Andrew Davis. Please create another good movie. The story is very hot from the begin to the end and the music by James Newton Howard was as usual perfect. I will add this one to my best of dvd collection. I highly recommend it and check out "Falling Down" with Michael Douglas. 7.5/10.
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Slick, glossy, shallow
moonspinner559 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Remake of Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder" (with a worse title) has the unfaithful wife of a New York City businessman targeted for murder. Unsurprising twists in this updated version do allow Michael Douglas to play a mean SOB again (after too many years of playing the victimized good guy), but the plot feels half-baked. Much of the movie seems to take place off-screen; mostly what we get are fatuous red herrings and character contrivances. What's with all that linguistic talent Gwyneth Paltrow possesses? What's the point?... and when Gwyneth travels to the seedy side of town to try her key in a stranger's apartment, why does the editor cut away after she dramatically enters the building? What does she find inside? Why does she tell Douglas her intentions at the end, only to freeze against the door-jam when he tries to stop her? "A Perfect Murder" isn't a dumb thriller, it's fairly tight and intriguing, and the performances are commendable, but it doesn't satisfy on a hearty level (like Hitchcock). In fact, it ends with a whimper. **1/2 from ****
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Great thriller...
pro-andy25 April 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very exciting movie.The actors are great especially Michael Douglas who is perfect as Steven Tyler who wants his wife dead and hire her lover (Viggo Mortensen) to kill her.But something goes wrong and now Steven doesn't control the situation anymore.It´s almost as good as Hitchkock's first movie which this is based on. James Newton-Howard's music is also good.

I´m not a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow but she is actually rather good in this movie. I didn't like her parts in Emma and Sliding Doors. Viggo Mortensen is very good as David Shaw who Steven hires to kill his wife. David Suchet is great as the suspicious cop who doesn't trust Steven when everybody else thinks that he is a good guy.

You can watch this movie and afterwards you just can't let it go out from your head. Michael Douglas has found his right style in this kind of movies.Wall Street,The Game and this one is perfect examples of a great Douglas-film.OK he was also good in Falling Down and Fatal Attraction but this Douglas is much better.

The rate is:7.5 out of 10
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good flick, but could have been much better
lexyflex23 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, why did they ruin a gem like this. I think thats what most of the people who have seen this movie will say.

What went wrong? Well, the movie starts out pretty good. Immediately there is a certain tense in it, when Michael Douglas pops up a few times, and you're wondering if he knows his wife has a new lover. After that the movie goes in a faster pace, and reaches very high levels. At that time, I was amazed about the script. It was really magnificent. Every time I got really surprised with totally unexpected things happening. Nothing wrong until now.

Then finally, the film makes a crucial mistake regarding the end. The end of every movie is one of the most important things, A part that can make or break a movie. Well in this case, the end totally breaks / ruins the movie.


I thought the movie ended when Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow (the married couple) planned a dinner, Douglas went to the shower, and they would live happily ever after, without Paltrow finding out that her husband Douglas did plan to murder her, and with him being relieved that nobody knows what the hell he did, and the fact that his wife Paltrow is devoted to him again.

But then, it was a shock for me, that the movie continued for several minutes, in which Paltrow finds the tape with the evidence that Douglas planned the whole murder attempt. Then she kills him after some stupid fight between them.

The end degrades the movie. Without the end I would have rated it 9 out of 10, but sadly it has this end so I rate it a 7 out of 10, and it suddenly isnt one of my alltime favorites.

What an end can do ......
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More Than Just A Remake Of An Old Movie
seymourblack-119 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This stylish 90's thriller about a love triangle that turns murderous was based on Frederick Knott's play "Dial M For Murder" (which was also the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's movie of the same name). Patrick Smith Kelly's screenplay updates the action, relocates it from London to New York and features enough plot twists to keep most viewers fully engaged throughout. The interactions between the characters at the centre of the story involve a toxic mixture of jealousy, lust, deception and blackmail which inevitably adds to the tensions which exist between them right from the very start.

Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy Wall Street trader with an unfaithful wife and an investment portfolio which is losing its value so fast that financial ruin seems to be a certainty. In order to deal with these problems he meticulously devises a complex and seemingly perfect plan to murder his wife so that he can solve his financial problems when he inherits his share of her $100 million fortune.

Steven's wife Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow) has for some time been having an affair with a struggling artist called David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen) who Steven visits at his loft studio. Having already researched David's background and discovered that he's actually an ex-convict with a track record of being involved in scams in which rich women were his victims; Steven blackmails him into carrying out the planned murder for $500,000 in cash.

When things don't work out as planned, Steven moves quickly to cover up what's happened, David tries to blackmail Steven because he has some incriminating evidence of his involvement in the murder plot and Emily gradually starts to realise what her husband's been attempting to do.

One of the strengths of this movie is the brilliant casting as Michael Douglas is perfect as the cold and ruthless Steven, Gwyneth Paltrow portrays Emily's natural elegance, refinement and vulnerability convincingly and Viggo Mortensen looks suitably bohemian and at various times shows the mild amusement that David derives from what he does. These three characters all have their secrets as Emily doesn't tell Steven about her affair, he doesn't tell her about his financial problems and David doesn't mention his multiple identities, his criminal record or his background as a con artist.

"A Perfect Murder" isn't as stagy or as claustrophobic as Hitchcock's movie and the new elements which have been added really work well and make the plot more interesting. A wonderfully moody atmosphere is created and maintained throughout the film and some of the remarks made by the characters make a great impact. Examples of this are when Steven and Emily both say at different times "what if there were no tomorrow?" and "that's not happiness to see me, is it?".

It's easy to see why "A Perfect Murder" was such a commercial success because it's actually a great deal more than just a simple remake of a well known movie.
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darth_sidious4 August 2000
Three problems with this picture :

1. A loose remake of Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder" 2. Michael Douglas is directed horribly in some scenes 3. Poor dialogue at times

Dial M For Murder is better of the 2, but this isn't bad, just not directed very well by a goodish director. Firstly, the framing is off at times, resulting in poor editing which the picture didn't need. 2 characters can fit in one frame without resorting to close-ups which add no emotions to the characters.

Michael Douglas's performance wasn't good at all in some scenes, a face expression can say a 1000 words. He practically gave away clues to the police just by unconvincing expressions on his face. This is the director's fault!

Andrew Davis can produce better than this. I didn't feel anything for any of the characters.

The twists try to shake off Hitchcock's original, but at times it becomes sloppy. The finale is extremely disappointing, very tried and so damn boring!

I watched this in aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9).

Average, but not horrid. I can't say too much just in case you haven't seen it :)
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Much Better Than The Original
ccthemovieman-127 February 2006
Boy, here's one re-make I thought was far superior to the original. The latter was "Dial M For Murder," with Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Bob Cummings. In this film, the stars are Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen.

The best part of this film may not be the story, or the acting, both of which keep you glued to the screen, but the stylish photography and sets. They look magnificent, mainly the apartment of the the two leads. I was constantly awed by how good this film looks.

I also prefer the sequel because it has more twists and is complex enough to thoroughly enjoy every 3-4 years. Also fun are the short speeches each character gives on occasion, usually when they smugly think they have the upper hand. Each time that happens, their antagonist winds up going one up on them! There isn't much action in here but when it occurs, it's very intense.

I've viewed this movie four times and the only thing that annoys me - unfortunately it's a big one - is the ending in which I don't believe justice totally prevailed. I can't wrote much more without spoiling it for those who have not seen this. One of the parties comes out looking like a 'an innocent victim" and that person was hardly a "saint." If all the parties had received just due, it would have been more satisfying and I would have rated this a 10 for how entertaining it is to watch.
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A Tension-Filled And Unpredictable Thriller
Desertman8424 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This happens to be a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock 1954 classic "A Perfect Murder". Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viggo Mortensen star in this suspense-filled thriller about a love triangle between a rich businessman, his wife and a struggling artist.

A Wall Street businessman who is currently in financial trouble has a wife,who is currently committing adultery with a struggling artist.The business Steven Taylor knows about her wife Emily's affair with the artist named David Shaw.So he decides to plan the perfect murder of killing his wife with David as a co-conspirator by paying him half a million - $100,000 now and $400,000 after Emily gets killed.The so-called perfect murder did not materialize and it did create complications among the characters involved.

The movie was made almost 20 years ago.With regards to the suspense,it definitely delivered as the viewer get surprised with both the tension and the unpredictability that the screenplay has that started after the so-called "perfect murder" failed when Emily wasn't killed.That itself made the movie interesting especially on how Steven,Emily and David would end up and how their relationship with one another develop in the end.As for that performances, Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow were definitely great as husband and wife especially with the tension and mistrust that developed after an attempt on Emily was made and how each one was able to figure out the other.Overall,it was an exciting and tension-filled thriller that a viewer who loves these type of films would surely enjoy.
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Stylish thriller, but falters at the end
fleagles10 July 2000
A sort-of remake of Dial M for Murder, A Perfect Murder throws in several new twists and turns. While that film was more of a play than a movie, this tells the story of a wealthy New York commodities trader, his trophy wife, and the painter that she is cheating on her husband with. The Upper East Side of New York looks beautiful, and the actors are all good, including Douglas, whose character is a late 90's update of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko. However, the plot twists toward a tired and obvious conclusion. This one had me until the last ten minutes.

Vote: 6
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Why the extra violence? Why the detective?
klantry24 January 2002
Hitchcock's version was very stagebound, and, except for the assault on Grace Kelly, practically a drawing room mystery. This one adds two more, including one seemingly necessary to create a closure.

Why does the movie go to the trouble of creating Detective Karamor (David Suchet), the archetypical intrepid investigator, then leave the necessary detective and confrontation work to Emily? His sole function seems to be to let Emily know about the missing key. Even his work with the phone records has holes in it - the police should have been able to trace the call to a cell phone and found some details. Knowing that the call came from an unregistered or falsely registered phone should have raised suspicion about the nature of the attack.
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Pretty good murder mystery thriller remake.
poolandrews19 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A Perfect Murder is set in New York where financial expert Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) & United Nations staff member Emily Taylor (Gwyneth Paltrow) live together as husband & wife, however it is in name only as their marriage is a loveless & cold affair. Emily has been having an affair with small time conman & artist David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen), Steven has found out about the affair & being in severe financial trouble decides to take advantage of the situation & blackmails David into murdering Emily, together they devise a perfect murder but the plan goes awry & Emily survives the attempted murder. The police become involved & one lie after another gets Steven deeper into trouble & Emily starts to suspect that he may have had something to do with her attempted murder...

Directed by Andrew Davis & based on Frederick Knotts stage play Dial M for Murder this was intended as a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock film Dial M for Murder (1954) which itself was based on the play, as a decent murder mystery suspense thriller A Perfect Murder isn't perfect but it's still a worthwhile film if you have the patience. The film follows the basic story of the Hitchcock original quite closely with a few changes, the man Emily is having an affair with & the man Steven hires to kill here are morphed into one character now rather than being separate, the police involvement is far less in A Perfect Murder & the most significant difference comes at the climax where there's no police sting & there's more of a dramatic ending involving guns. Othewise the two films are very similar with Emily killing her potential killer, Steven trying to cover things up, the police suspecting him & switched flat keys becoming a major clue & the basic motivation remains good old fashioned money. The character's are good here, Steven played by Michael Douglas is a cunning, cool & calm man who comes across as ruthless & clever, Emily doesn't feel like she has a hundred million dollars to be honest but even though she's meant to be the victim she started the whole thing off by having an affair & David the small time conman appears to be in it for the money even though the script never really makes it clear if he loved Emily or not. At almost an hour & fifty minutes I wasn't bored by it as it's fairly gripping & tense with some nice twists & turns although I could see why many might find it a bit slow & uneventful but I personally didn't have any problem getting into it as I like a good murder mystery.

Another major change between the Hitchcock version & this is that it switches the location from a posh London in the 50's to a wealthy contemporary New York, the change doesn't affect things much though. The Hitchcock original was filmed at a more innocent time so expectedly A Perfect Murder increases the profanity, the violence, the blood, the body count & there's even a tastefully done love scene. The title A Perfect Murder is actually a quote from the original Dial M for Murder. Nowhere near as staged, enclosed or limited as the original there's more back-story to the character's & more happens even though the two are basically more or less the same film.

Filmed in New York the production values are lavish & it's well made, the only thing that dates it is that old style mobile phone no-one would be seen dead using these days. The acting is excellent from a great cast, Michael Douglas is great as the scheming cold blooded husband, Gwyneth Paltrow show's just enough vulnerability to be believable & sympathetic, Viggo Mortensen plays it broadly & you never quite know whether he would prefer the money or the girl while David Suchet is wasted in a very small role.

A Perfect Murder is a really good suspense thriller with great performances & a good plot, I wouldn't say it's better than than the original Dial M for Murder but I wouldn't say it's worse either.
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I'll Tell You When It's Over!
sol121822 December 2006
***SPOILERS*** You see right away that their marriage is a bit strained within the first few minutes of the movie as Steven and Emily Taylor, Michael Douglas & Gwyneth Paltrow, get ready to attend a by invitation only art exhibit at the New York Museum of Art. At the museum Emily makes eye contact with young starving and soon to become famous, or so he hopes, young artist David Shaw, Viggo Mortensen. You knows right away that she and him have got something going between each other and that the cheated on husband Steven, who's nobody's fool, knows that as well.

Emily and David we find are madly in love with each other but Emily finds it much too hard to tell Steven and thus have the marriage dissolved. Keeping her affair with David secret Emily goes to his loft in Greenpoint Brooklyn every chance that she has and spends the day making out with him until Steven, a bond and currency broker on Wall Street, comes back home from a hard day's work at the office.

Giving David a call, he got his phone number at the exhibit, Steven invites him over to a downtown bar to talk over his art work. To David's surprise, when he and Steven go to his loft to check it out, he's hit with the fact that Steven not only knows what's going on between him and Emily but also knows that David is an impostor! It turns out that David is on the lamb from the police for fleecing a number of rich and naive women of their life savings. Having been already convicted and sentenced to long prison terms for fraud and embezzlement the third time around would put David away for at least 15 years with no chance of parole. On top of all that Steven got the self-styled Casanova by the you know what with a photo that identifies him as the person who gypped a woman out of her savings. This information that David has, if it lead lead to a trial and conviction, would be David's third strike as well as a 15 year sentence behind bars.

Just when you think that you got an idea of where the movie is going with Steven breaking up the love affair between the young artist and his wife Emily he completely surprises you by offering David $500,000.00 to not just get of of his and Emily's life but to murder her! We soon learn that Steven is not at all that interested in whom his wife is sleeping with but in her 100 million dollar trust fund that he's to inherited if anything bad, like Emily losing her life, happens to her.

Having been involved in a number of wild and very speculative trading ventures on Wall Street Steven's firm is about to go bust with him heavily leveraged in playing the currency and bond markets with the banks leaving him, the once billionaire Wall Street whiz kid, almost penniless.

The plan to do in Emily that Steven devises with a very reluctant David is to make it look like she was surprised by a burglar who then killed her and took of with nothing more then the key to her and Stevens suite that he would provide for him. David who's to do all the dirty work acting as the burglar while Steven, providing a perfect alibi for himself in his wife's murder, is away playing cards with his Wall Sreet friends on the other side of town. The almost perfect plan backfires when Emily not only survives it by killing the intruder, after a life and death struggle, with a oven thermometer but, this is what really blew Steven's as well as everyone watching the movies mind, the dead man turns out not to be David Shaw!

Very well done murder drama/thriller that has the slick and crafty Steven Taylor get outmaneuvered by the person whom he tries to manipulate David Shaw. David in no time at all has all the cards to put Steven not just out of business, as a Wall Street broker, but behind bars as well for attempted murder of his wife Emily. Emily for her part is completely ignorant of what Steven had planned for her. It's not until Emily realizes with the help of Turkish/American NYPD detective in charge of the killing Mohamed Karaman,David Suchet, that the key that's on her key-chain, that Steven hastily put on it, is actually that of the dead burglars, Roland Gibbs, Washington Heights apartment. Emily and Moe or Mohamed somehow secretly bond together during the rest of the movie "A Perfect Murder" with her knowing Turkish and speaking to Moe in his native language.

It takes a while for Emily to realize just what Steven is up to and by the time she finally get's it all together with the mystery of how her missing house key that the sparks and bullets really start to fly in the movies very tense and edge of your seat final sequence.
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A Disappointing Remake
mab8sd24 January 2003
"A Perfect Murder" is an admirable attempt to remake Alfred Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder", an excellent, but often overlooked work. Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen all produce solid performances; this film is limited by its plot. The screenwriters were faced with the unenviable task of attempting to improve an immensely clever and complex script. "Dial M" deserves credit as a great thriller because of the layers in the plot, which require the viewer to think. These layers in the Hitchcock version are absent in Andrew Davis' version. Davis adds a new twist of his own, but it is not enough to make up for the missing elements of the original story. Finally, John Williams steals the show in "Dial M" with his outstanding performance as the inspector. David Suchet, whose portrayal of Hercule Poirot in the Agatha Christie film series models Williams' inspector, is given no such opportunity to shine in this film. All in all, "A Perfect Murder" is a decent film, but does not fall anywhere near the original.
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