Dave turns to the small screen and samples a neo-noir with a heavy dose of Hitchcock.
Deriving its themes from a Hitchcock double-header of Vertigo (1958) and Marnie (1964), and adding a dollop of neo-noir into the blend as well, the challenge for THOSE BEDROOM EYES (aka ‘A Kiss to Die For’) is whether it can keep its influences in check while striding forth in its own inimitable manner, or if it crumples in a state of derivative exhaustion. The answer is a little bit of both.
Tim Matheson is William Tauber, a professor of psychology at Harvard who’s struggling to find something to live for in the wake of his wife’s death. Having boarded a train with the intention of jumping to his death mid-journey, he’s saved by the mysterious Ali Broussard (Mimi Rogers), with whom he wastes no time getting it on with in a nearby cabin.
Suicide to sex in six melodramatic minutes. It’s possibly the most ridiculous opening sequence to any neo-noir, yet it’s a compelling one in all its gelastic glory.
Elsewhere in the city, Mike Stoller (William Forsythe), a fiery, fag-holding detective, is attempting to crack a case where a female call girl (“He was shot in the groin. Ten to one it’s a woman!”) calling herself ‘Bedroom Eyes’ is butchering wealthy businessmen. Inevitably, Ali becomes a suspect, and it’s left to William to discover the true identity of the woman who’s stolen his heart.
Airing on NBC in early October ’93, Those Bedroom Eyes gets a lot right with regard to the identity it wishes to carve. George S. Clinton’s sultry sax packs a seductive musicality into Leon Ichaso’s picture. The Cuban director was fresh off the back of the underrated Wesley Snipes vehicle Sugar Hill (1993), and his apprenticeship on the likes of Crime Story and Miami Vice gives the movie a substance rarely seen in small screen endeavours. Similarly, Deborah Dalton’s script is wordily satisfying, while retaining a vague connection to Whore (1991), her debut screenplay that she wrote with Ken Russell.
Mimi Rogers is the star here, building on memorable turns in pictures like Someone to Watch Over Me (1987) and Hider in the House (1989). She’s a delectable femme fatale; mysterious, provocative and effortlessly seductive. Yes, Broussard could have been a more nuanced character, but Rogers paints her with enough perspective that it’s a forgivable flaw. Matheson, meanwhile, comes over a little flat, but then the film doesn’t demand much more from him aside from the occasional pensive glance and an infrequent moment of contemplation. Besides, with Forsythe exhibiting his best scene-chewing behaviour, there’s enough testosterone on show to compensate for a full male ensemble.
In Germany this stumbled onto videocassette under the somewhat exploitative title of ‘Psycho Attraction’, while the Swedes were similarly brazen, calling it ‘Naked Instinct’. As a marketing ploy, it’s clear that comparisons to the works of Adrian Lyne and Paul Verhoeven are beneficial but, from an artistic point of view, you could drain it of colour and slap Robert Siodmak’s name above the title and it would be lauded for its pessimism and underlying existentialist philosophy.
USA ● 1993 ● Drama, TVM ● 91mins
Tim Matheson, Mimi Rogers, William Forsythe, Carlos Gomez ● Dir. Leon Ichaso ● Wri. Deborah Dalton