Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kenneth Branagh|
|Produced by||Lindsay Doran|
|Written by||Scott Frank|
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Edited by||Peter E. Berger|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Budget||$15 million|
|Box office||$38 million (United States)|
Dead Again is a 1991 American neo-noir romantic thriller film directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Scott Frank. It stars Branagh and Emma Thompson, with Andy García, Derek Jacobi, Wayne Knight, and Robin Williams appearing in supporting roles.
Dead Again was a moderate box office success and received positive reviews from the majority of critics. Jacobi was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Patrick Doyle, who composed the film's music, was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
Newspapers detail the 1949 murder of Margaret Strauss, who was stabbed during a robbery; her anklet is missing. Her husband, composer Roman Strauss, is found guilty of the crime and condemned to death. Before his execution, Roman is visited by reporter Gray Baker. Asked if he killed Margaret, Roman appears to whisper something in Gray's ear. Baker does not disclose Roman's answer.
Forty years later, private detective Mike Church investigates the identity of a woman who has appeared at the orphanage where he grew up. She has amnesia, cannot speak and has nightmares. Mike takes her in and asks his friend, Pete Dugan, to publish her picture and his contact information. Antiques dealer and hypnotist Franklyn Madson approaches Mike, suggesting that hypnosis may help her recover her memory.
When the session is unsuccessful, Madson suggests that they experiment with past life regression. Mike is skeptical, but the woman details Margaret and Roman's lives in third person, from courtship to their wedding. When the session ends, she can speak but still has amnesia. Madson shows them Life magazine articles covering the murder. Mike and the woman bear a striking resemblance to Roman and Margaret. Mike visits disgraced psychiatrist Cozy Carlisle, who insists that they continue to see Madson; delving into the problems between Margaret and Roman may resolve her amnesia.
Mike nicknames the woman "Grace", and falls in love with her. Doug appears and claims that Grace is his fiancée Katherine, but Mike discovers he is lying and chases him away. Hypnotized, Grace remembers that Roman suffers from writer's block and is broke. He believes that Margaret is flirting with Baker, whom she met on their wedding day. Margaret cannot convince Roman that she is faithful and catches Frankie, the son of their housekeeper Inga, looking through her jewelry box. She asks Roman to dismiss them but Roman refuses, saying that they saved his life in Nazi Germany.
Grace sees Mike standing over Margaret with scissors, and is convinced he intends to kill her. Mike insists that he would never hurt her, but when he accidentally calls her "Margaret", he agrees to let Madson regress him. During his regression, he realizes he was Margaret and that Grace was actually Roman, but is unable to tell Madson or Grace this revelation.
Dugan tells Mike that he has identified Grace as artist Amanda Sharp. Amanda, still afraid of Mike, accompanies Pete and Madson to her apartment; her artwork focuses on scissors. Madson gives her a gun to protect herself from Mike. Mike visits Baker in a nursing home and asks him about Roman's secret, but Baker insists that Roman said nothing to him. Baker is convinced that Roman did not kill his wife and urges Mike to find Inga, who would know what happened.
Mike realizes that Madson is Frankie. He questions Inga, who explains that she declared her love for Roman but he rebuffed her advances. Frankie blamed Margaret for his mother's unhappiness and killed her with scissors, then stole her anklet. Roman later was found covered in his wife's blood and holding the murder weapon. After Roman's execution, Inga took Frankie to London where he learned about hypnotherapy and past-life regression. After returning to Los Angeles, Frankie was convinced that Margaret's spirit would seek revenge. When he saw Amanda's picture in the paper, he knew she had returned. He hired Doug, an actor, to separate Mike and Amanda and distract Amanda while he waited to kill her. Inga apologizes for her role in Margaret's death, and gives Mike the anklet. After Mike leaves to find Amanda, Madson smothers Inga with a pillow.
Mike tries to tell Amanda the truth. Terrified, she shoots him. Madson arrives and reveals his true identity. Amanda tries to shoot him as well, but the gun jams and he knocks her out. He puts the scissors he used to kill Margaret in Mike's hand and tries to make it look like Amanda killed him and committed suicide. Mike revives and stabs Madson in the leg with the scissors. In the ensuing struggle, Mike grabs the gun from Madson. Pete arrives, misconstrues the scene and tackles Mike. As Madson reaches for the dropped pistol, Amanda stabs him in the back with the scissors. In a berserk rage, Madson pulls the scissors out and charges at Mike, but Mike quickly positions Amanda's scissors sculptures so that Madson impales himself. A closing montage shows Mike and Amanda embracing, superimposed over Margaret and Roman in happier times.
- Kenneth Branagh as Mike Church/Roman Strauss
- Emma Thompson as Grace/Margaret Strauss
- Andy García as Gray Baker
- Derek Jacobi as Franklyn Madson
- Wayne Knight as "Piccolo" Pete Dugan
- Robin Williams as Dr. Cozy Carlisle
- Hanna Schygulla as Inga
- Campbell Scott as Doug
- Jo Anderson as Sister Madeleine
- Lois Hall as Sister Constance
- Richard Easton as Father Timothy
- Gregor Hesse as Frankie
- Vasek Simek as Otto Kline
- Christine Ebersole as Lydia Larson
- Raymond Cruz as supermarket clerk
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According to the director's commentary on the DVD, the movie was filmed entirely in color. After test screenings, it was decided to use black and white for the "past" sequences to help clear up audience confusion. The final frame, once the mystery is solved, blooms from black and white to color.
Dead Again was well received by most critics. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 83% based on reviews from 47 critics. On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on reviews from 19 critics. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on scale of A to F.
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a glowing four star review, drawing comparisons to the works of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, stating, "Dead Again is Kenneth Branagh once again demonstrating that he has a natural flair for bold theatrical gesture. If Henry V, the first film he directed and starred in, caused people to compare him to Olivier, Dead Again will inspire comparisons to Welles and Hitchcock - and the Olivier of Hitchcock's Rebecca. I do not suggest Branagh is already as great a director as Welles and Hitchcock, although he has a good start in that direction. What I mean is that his spirit, his daring, is in the same league. He is not interested in making timid movies." James Berardinelli also gave the film a four star review, praising Branagh's direction and all levels of the production, from the screenplay by Scott Frank to Patrick Doyle's score, stating, "...Branagh has combined all of these cinematic elements into an achievement that rivals Hitchcock's best work and stands out as one of the most intriguing and memorable thrillers of the 1990s."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone viewed the film negatively, praising some elements of Branagh's direction while criticizing the romance, saying, "In his efforts to crowd the screen with character and incident, Branagh cheats on the one element that might have given resonance to the mystery: the love story. Branagh and Thompson (married in real life) are sublime actors, but they never develop a convincing ardor as either couple. How could they when the director is so busy playing tricks? Dead Again isn't a disaster, merely a miscalculation from a prodigious talent who has forgotten that you squeeze the life out of romance when you don't give it space to breathe."
Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave the film a lukewarm review, calling it "a big, convoluted, entertainingly dizzy romantic mystery melodrama" and concluding, "Dead Again is eventually a lot simpler than it pretends to be. The explanation of the mystery is a rather commonplace letdown, but probably nothing short of mass murder could successfully top the baroque buildup. In this way, too, the film is faithful to its antecedents, while still being a lot of fun."
In 2016, Jason Bailey at Flavorwire, repeated Roger Ebert's initial directorial comparisons, writing that, "Dead Again is one of the most Hitchcockian thrillers this side of De Palma, with easily traceable influences of Olivier-fronted Rebecca (in the creepy, needy housekeeper), Psycho (the mysterious old mother in the next room), Dial M for Murder (the scissors as murder weapon), and Spellbound (the therapeutic elements, plus a quickie reference to Salvador Dali, who advised on that film’s dream sequences)".
Dead Again grossed $3,479,395 during its opening weekend, playing on 450 screens. It eventually grossed more than $38 million by the end of its theatrical run.
|British Academy Film Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Derek Jacobi||Nominated|
|Berlin International Film Festival||Golden Bear||Kenneth Branagh||Nominated|
|Edgar Allan Poe Awards||Best Motion Picture Screenplay||Scott Frank||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Original Score||Patrick Doyle||Nominated|
|Young Artist Award||Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Motion Picture||Gregor Hesse||Nominated|
It was also unofficially remade into a 1998 Malayalam movie Mayilpeelikkavu
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