Monday, July 09, 2007

My Favorite Films: Dead Again

I'm still on vacation although I'm back in Dallas and attending the RWA Convention at the downtown Hyatt. I've asked my friend to continue to post a column each day about my favorite films. I may hop in and do a post or two while I'm at the convention. I just don't know yet.

The next movie is one that I have a hard time defining. It's a fantasy about reincarnation; it's a mystery; it's a love story. It's Dead Again released in 1991.

I am a huge fan of both Kenneth Branagh and his ex-wife Emma Thompson. I believe they did four films together during their time together. Dead Again, the second of the four, is one of my favorites. The pair play double roles as they tell two love stories--one contemporary and the other post WWII.

The obvious attraction between the couple makes the film sizzle with electric energy.

The movie begins when a woman suffering from amnesia (Thompson) shows up at a Catholic orphanage. The nuns bully one of their "ex-boys" into helping her. Mike Church (Branagh) is a detective who specializes in locating missing people. He names the woman "Grace" and sets out to discover who she is.

Grace suffers from horrendous nightmares, and she seeks help from an antiques dealer who is also a hypnotist (Derek Jacobi). He claims that Grace is reliving events from a past life. Mike refuses to believe this mumbo-jumbo and consults a well-known psychiatrist who lost his license for sexual improprieties. The psychiatrist (Robin Williams) suggests the couple follow up on the story Grace seems to be remembering.

In 1948, a composer, Roman Strauss, owned the mansion that is today the Catholic orphanage. Roman fell in love with and married a beautiful musician named Margaret. Shortly after their marriage, she was brutally killed, and Roman was tried and convicted for her murder. Andy Garcia plays a famous journalist who covered the trial.

Grace and Mike are falling in love. The closer they become, the more fearful of him she grows.

The film moves back and forth in time seamlessly between the two love stories, building to a frightening confrontation on a stormy night much like the night that Margaret died. The past story is shown in black-and-white while the contemporary story is in color.

Robin Williams' cameo is terrific as is Derek Jacobi's appearance. Jacobi played Claudius in the PBS version of I Claudius and has great fun with his role, as does Wayne Knight who played Newman on Seinfeld.

I found dozens of sappy clips of Dead Again on YouTube. Fans of the movie set the two love stories to music and edited the daylights out of them. I finally decided the trailer for the film would give you the best feel for the movie.

It's a great thriller. Even though it's not hard to figure out the ending, I still enjoyed the ride.

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