Friday, September 16, 2011
Dead Again (1991)
It is amazing what twenty years can do to your memory, or perhaps what twenty years of development as a person will do to the way you think about things. Twenty years ago, Kenneth Branagh released his second feature which was his first non-Shakespeare film. Twenty years ago, I really was impressed with it. Now I still find it good, but not great.
At the time it seemed like such a great “twist” story and Hitchcockian was a word that people used when describing it. Now it is a bit obvious and Hitchcock has been done and outdone better. Part of the problem is the whole reincarnation plot. Not that one is offended by the idea, but the film doesn’t really sell the concept enough for the audience to believe it in this story’s world. Even if you accept it for the sake of the story, it then makes the “twist” a lot less impactful.
The danger a lot of these movies face when they rely on plot, and a twist in particular, is that they often fail to deliver a story or characters that encourage repeated visits. That is certainly the case here. We don’t ever really like anyone here and in the end we have a hard time caring what is going to happen to them. Short of making the characters more likable, the film could have used the reincarnation element as more than a vehicle for the plot and explored the ideas more; especially when there are so many other religious aspects and characters in the story already.