Retro Film Review: Color of Night (1994)

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(Edited)

When I was little boy, I wanted to grow up and become psychiatrist. It looked like a really attractive profession to me - you earn money by doing nothing, just sitting and listening to complete strangers while they confess the most intimate details of their lives. However, even such life can have some bad sides - some psychiatrists may become internationally wanted war criminals and some, like Robert Capa, protagonist of 1994 thriller Color of Night, may happen to see their patients jumping to their deaths through his own office window. Capa (played by Bruce Willis) is shaken by experience, so he needs some help from his old friend and colleague Bob Moore (played by Scott Bakula) who lives in California. However, after repeated death threats, Bob gets killed and Capa, advised by police Lt. Sanchez (played by Ruben Blades), decides to find the killer among the picturesque members of Bob's therapy group. When he isn't solving the mystery, Capa is engaged in passionate love affair with mysterious and sexy girl named Rose (played by Jane March). In the meantime, the killer begins stalking and targetting Capa too.

Many people despise this film and they probably have a lot of good reasons for it. First problem is in the disorganised screenplay by Matthew Chapman and Billy Ray, which is strange and not very successful mix of Agatha Christie-like "whodunnit" thriller and psychological drama. Another is terrible miscasting of Bruce Willis who has some serious problems in convincing the audience that he is actually an intellectual. Then, there is a bunch of awfully stereotyped minor characters that serve as collective comic relief. The plot is, of course, formulaic and totally predictable, with the obligatory and not very thrilling climatic showdown in abandoned warehouse. And, finally, many film lovers were disappointed to see Richard Rush, very talented director of the 1970s, now engaged in this typical Hollywood garbage, far bellow high standards of that golden era.

What saves this film from total failure are the actors. Brad Dourif and Lesley Ann Warren are charming as the members of Capa's support group, same as Ruben Blades as Hispanic detective. Finally, Jane March looks really attractive and although her allegedly steamy sex scenes with Willis (the ones that caused some rating controversy) definitely aren't worth the hype, she is at least good thing to see. And finally, some elements of the screenplay, like the lesbian relationship, have certain trash quality that would give this film certain aura of "it's so bad that is good" guilty pleasure. Anyway, with more of two hours of length (with extra twenty minutes in integral version) this film can be hard to watch for those expecting high quality entertainment. Those more relaxed and equipped with the benefits of VCR technology, might enjoy it a little bit more.

RATING: 4/10 (+)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies.reviews on June 5th 1999)

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