Thursday, March 17, 2011

Escape Clause (1996)****

Reviewed by Guest Blogger Shu-Zin

Who’d have thought that opening ESCAPE CLAUSE with a rousing speech about risk assumption to a bunch of insurance pros at a convention would have me on the edge of my seat, with my mouth hanging open? Well. It did, and mine was, and I knew right away I was going to love this movie. See, that opening scene did not talk down to the audience, nor was it dumbed down or overwrought. It was simply smart and intriguing, and that’s the mark of good writing in a film. I shouldn’t be surprised if the Ramsey Curve really exists in modern, real-life risk assessment.

This smart, gripping quality did not quit til the end of this stylish, well-paced thriller about insurance, infidelity and murder. After some early morning matrimonial bliss, the story, about an insurance exec (Andrew McCarthy, in a nicely understated and compelling performance) whose wife seems to have contracted for his murder, begins in earnest. This is a thriller, and I felt chills visit my spine more than once as the story proceeded to a sneaky surprise ending.

 Director Brian Trenchard-Smith makes everything flow; one senses he is demanding and hands on, and in cahoots with the production designer and the cinematographer. The production is perfect, lovely to look at; good, rich colors, great light and shadow shots, good pacing. While there are familiar elements (Double Indemnity, for example, addresses some of the themes here), this is a fresh, original take, and you’ll experience a jolt or two of paranoia with your suspense, which brings me to the score; it will make your hair roots tingle.

Good casting all around, with excellently annoying in-laws and the great Paul Sorvino as sad, observant, big bear cop with a trick or two up his sleeve. Heads up: things are quite steamy in the marital bliss department, and “labial folds” are mentioned, sotto voce, by the police. There are two scenes with men lying in a sea of broken crockery, but not much else noteworthy in the violence department. Recommended good fun.

Reviewed by Guest Blogger Shu-Zin