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Deceiver (1998)
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Review Date: November 07, 1998
Director: Jonas and Josh Pate
Writer: Jonas and Josh Pate
Producers: Peter Glatzer
Actors:
Tim Roth
Chris Penn
Michael Rooker
Renee Zellweger
Plot:
A wealthy, arrogant, manipulative alcoholic by the name of Wayland gets interrogated by two tough cops in regards to the murder of a prostitute found chopped in two pieces. Wayland suffers from a serious case of temporal lobe epilepsy, and has had a history of deception. The intense officers also have their own demons, and struggle to determine the truth and the identity of the real killer in this meandering murder mystery.
Critique:
Dark, gritty, engrossing whodunnit, with strong performances by all of its leads, effective storytelling by the way of the Pate brothers (despite its convoluted plot) and a unique, if somewhat overdone, style of directing. This film suggests film noir, but with its proverbial femme fatale chopped in two, I suppose. The entire story basically takes place in one interrogation room, with two uncompromising cops grilling a wealthy suspect, but the superior performances by the actors, the interesting story line, and the unique flashbacks from directors Pate, make this film a suspense filled, original tale of tantalizing inquisitiveness.

It's the type of film that continues to leave you guessing as to the identity of the perpetrator, even after the final frame of the film has been faded out. And it's not in the nasty sense of the plot being too complex, but in the good sense of being able to sit down and discuss it thought-provokingly with others afterwards. If you are the type of person who likes to have their films delivered fresh and clean on their plate, then you will definitely not enjoy this film's unique sense of serpentine narrative. But for all those who relish the idea of actually paying close attention to a film, and utilizing most of your brain's capacities to solve a well-developed mystery, then straddle yourself up for a good time with this enigmatic confection.

Michael Rooker pulls off another convincing performance as the tough guy with an attitude, and Penn demonstrates his capacity to act decently, without having to resort to a swear word every two lines. Tim Roth does come across as the strongest of the bunch with an excellent portrayal of a man whose ambitions, dreams and hopes were lost a long time before his extreme wealth and epileptic condition drove him to psychologically deceptive distractions. The directing is also uniquely envisioned to take full advantage of an otherwise dull setting, but the twin brothers do tend to ambitiously overwork the camera at some points. All in all, this film demonstrates an involved story line with many twists and turns, solid performances by its leads, a unique filming style and an all-around good time for all those looking to untangle a quirky murder mystery.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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