Under Suspicion (1991)

 Writer/Director Simon Moore scores high marks on this dark mystery, one that requires of its leading character, Liam Neeson (as Tony Aaron,) very versatile dramatic delivery. Almost showcasing the actors own range and interpretive abilities, this is a requirement upon which the movie’s success depends. Together with these elements a storyline weaves its way that makes astounding gyrations and turns but is yet held up by the circumstances of its unfolding.

Instead of maddened car chases and blazing gun battles, suspense and hang-tight circumstances serve to rivet the viewer to his/her seat. Although we are settled back, from time to time, into the  semblance of a predictable detective story, that is not long lasting. For what we might have suspected was the case early on, then relieved was not, comes alive again and again as possibility. So well  woven is it all, storyline, script writing, structure in the way circumstances arise, that in the end we are left astonished but still saying to ourselves: “why, of course”.

Tony Aaron is a man wrapped up in his own self-indulgence, as policeman he loses his career to bop a suspect’s wife while his partner is placed in jeopardy in the process, ultimately leading to another policeman’s death. As a detective he is reduced to providing faked evidence for spouses’ adultery in an English legal setting of the fifties that abhors divorce, even providing his own wife as a prop in the mix. His ne’er do well borrowing and exploiting of friends is constant. Just how deep do these character flaws run?

When the barrister for a famous artist seeking divorce from one beauty (Alphonsia Emmanuel) to keep another younger beauty/model (Laura San Giacomo,) employs our dubious hero for the photo op “evidence”, and the shoot turns out to be the ultimate crime scene…further unraveling does not cease until the very ending. The dance of, who is setting up whom and why, changes directions and resolutions many times but always with masterful twist and credible storyline. If the viewer, as vicarious detective, is alert, the clues to the final outcome are there, the mark of success in the film making, as has been intimated.

The dark aspect to this film takes advantage of the viewers’ acquired tastes in mystery/detective scenarios to suffer being knocked off the typical expectations and to have settled, in the outcome, justice served. For it is not. And there is no Alfred Hitchcock either, to cover for it. Just the horror to know this is a little more likely than not outcome. All is not left “right with the world” (just as more DNA examination is proving) and not all stories are sealed with the strike of the gavel. Sadly, too often, not.

Strong language, little nudity except in Picasso-like paintings and some pretty poor professional ethics modeled for the times. (What politicians easily have overcome in merely 17 short years.)

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