Still of the Night (1982) **
D: Robert Benton
C: Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy, Sara Botsford, Josef Sommer, Joe Grifasi
Plot Synopsis: A Manhattan psychiatrist probes a patient's murder and falls for the victim's mysterious mistress.
Review: Hitchcock influenced thriller finds Roy Schrieder taking on the role of the Everyman and Meryl Streep as the femme fatale in a murder mystery plot.
Scenes showing Schrieder poking & prodding where he shouldn't or getting in over his head with a police detective are all moderately suspenseful and shot with visual flair. As the femme fatale, Streep doesn't come across as the most logical choice to take on this kind of role, but her performance has a cumulative effect. At first, Streep comes across as aloof, but that aloofness helps to contribute to an icy, detached manner that's fitting of a character who may or may not be a killer and who may or may not be playing Schrieder's character like a violin.
There also happens to be a memorable scene in which Schrieder watches as a nude Meryl Streep is massaged in front of his very eyes. No wonder he falls for Streep's character when he knows he shouldn't! All of these various elements make for a passable attempt at Hitchcock, but if you're going to present a film that's in that style, both story & style wise, you have to be able to do so with a sense of grandeur.
The camera work lacks the intricate quality of a Hitchcock film. The locations lack the larger then life quality that served as a juxtaposition for the characters being placed in a tight, claustrophobic environment. The editing, in between the suspense & seduction scenes, needed to be tightened. The score, while certainly passable, could have been more subtle in parts and heightened in others.
Still of the Night has an idea of what it's trying to achieve, but doesn't quite have the expertise to pull it off. [PG] 93 mins.
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