At film's beginning Alison Hawkins (Faye Grant) and friend Bernadette Flynn (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) carouse during the New Year's Eve celebration (there is an undertone of lesbianism). After Alison is dropped off in her NY apartment, she is strangled by a maniac who managed to enter her residence. The newspapers scream that she is the eleventh victim. Mayor Eamon Flynn (Rod Steiger), orders police commissioner Frank Starkey (Harvey Keitel) to get his brother Nick (Kevin Kline) back on the police force to solve the crime. Nick, who is a little quirky, is a fireman, but when he was a cop he excelled in special investigation. Years earlier he was removed from the force for a graft scandal, but actually took a bribery hit for Frank. He agrees to return to the force. Police captain Vincent Alcoa (Danny Aiello), though, is not amused to see Nick return. Nevertheless, after a shouting match with the bellicose mayor, he is forced to concede.
Brothers Frank and Nick do not get along well. Before Frank married Christine (Susan Sarandon), she was Nick's girlfriend. Like the mayor and police chief, they argue. Nick soon becomes romantically involved with the mayor's daughter, Bernadette Flynn. At work the unorthodox Nick, who has a penchant for solving difficult situations, begins to put pieces together. Helping him investigate the case is his friend and neighbor, Ed (Alan Rickman). Ed, who paints nudes, is a computer guru who helps analyze when the murderer is going to strike next. Nick had already known that the strangler is clever and knows how to pick locks. Nick assembles the dates of the murders on his computer screen and then begins to analyze incredibly complex clues. He asks a fellow policeman what a prime number is. When the cop cannot answer Nick responds, "Any number that can only be divided by one and itself." He might have added, "without leaving a remainder" (above 2 the prime numbers are obviously odd). Nick, figuring out the days of the murders, is quite certain that the date of the next murder will be the fifth of January (the killer strikes monthly). Looking at the arrangement of the building locations of the various murders, Nick figures the constellation sign Virgo to locate the actual building (the killer strikes only at high rises). The strangler must be a computer whiz. The musical notes of Neil Sedaka's old song "Calendar Girl" play into it. Then Nick figures the actual apartment. A trap is set.
The movie, produced by Norman Jewison, and directed by Pat O'Connor, doesn't really work as a crime-erotic/romance-comedy. For one thing, inserting slapstick comedy elements into the denouement is ridiculous because the situation is supposed to be serious. Then there is the casting. Now these are all accomplished actors, but they are done in by the uneven mood and convoluted script by John Patrick Shanley, which leaves some questions unanswered (like the scandal). Keitel often frowns while Steiger often yells. Steiger overacts in his screaming confrontation with Aiello. Kevin Kline and Harvey Keitel are not especially convincing as brothers. Furthermore, they are like a Mutt and Jeff pair with Kline (6'2") towering over Keitel (5'7"). Ms. Mastrantonio, a handsome woman, looks nothing like a Flynn. Her performance is worthy, though, as is that of Alan Rickman.
There is just a slight resonance of mystery. The killer's identity is merely a backdrop ("He's a nobody.") while Kline's ingenious solution is implausible. The veteran actors and plot will generate some interest, although the New York City locations are not really used to good advantage except for the large apartment buildings necessary to make the situations work.
The January Man
The January Man
Nick and Frank Starkey were both policemen. A scandal forced Nick to leave the force, now a serial killer has driven the police to take him back. A web that includes Frank's wife, bribery, and corruption all are in the background as Nick tries to uncover the secret of where the killer will strike next, and finally must lay a trap without the police.
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August 04, 2015 at 07:27 PM