Director: Harold Becker
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, Bill Pullman, Bebe Neuwirth & George C. Scott
Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
From Director Harold Becker (The Onion Field), Malice centers on laid-back college dean Andy Safian (Bill Pullman, Lake Placid) coping with a string of on-campus rapes. In addition, as Andy struggles to renovate his house, his wife Tracy (Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut) begins developing severe stomach cramps. Shortly after inviting the cocky and charismatic Dr. Jed Hill (Alec Baldwin, The Departed) to move in with the couple, Andy’s life is turned upside down by a series of chilling events. George C. Scott (Hardcore), Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers), Peter Gallagher (American Beauty), Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man), Tobin Bell (Saw) and Anne Bancroft (The Graduate) co-star.
Co-scripted by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Malice is a deliciously deceptive thriller that oozes style and intrigue. Living an idyllic life, college dean Andy Safian (Pullman) is rattled when a serial rapist claims several victims on his campus. Following the recovery of one survivor, Andy is reacquainted with former high school alumni Dr. Jed Hill (Baldwin), forging a new found friendship. New to the community, Andy invites Jed to move in with him and his wife Tracy (Kidman) to help alleviate financial pressure. Shortly after, one of Andy’s students is discovered dead marking him a possible suspect in the mysterious crimes. In addition, as Tracy’s stomach cramps increase resulting in emergency surgery, Jed serving as the acting surgeon confronts Andy with a difficult decision that will weigh heavily on the couple’s future. Before long, Tracy is devastated with the outcome prompting her to abandon Andy and file a lawsuit against Jed’s malpractice. Shrouded in mystery and loaded with red herrings,Malice welcomes viewers into the false normalcy of Andy and Tracy’s marriage before slowly unveiling the sinister surface below. Pullman and Kidman evoke genuine chemistry as a loving couple while sharing steamy sequences of ecstasy together. Meanwhile, Baldwin effortlessly projects sex appeal and charm as the Safian’s unexpected roommate who becomes a crucial part in their complicated story of conspiracy and shady characters. While the film’s serial rapist subplot serves as nothing more than a suspenseful smokescreen, Malice ultimately delivers a chilling thrill ride that leaves viewers unsure who to trust. Accompanied by a haunting score by Jerry Goldsmith (Poltergeist, Rudy) and atmospheric cinematography by Gordon Willis (The Purple Rose of Cairo), Malice is an edge of your seat, character-driven mystery that is sorely lacking in today’s cinematic landscape.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents Malice with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Free of any discernible scratches and bearing a filmic appearance, colors pop boldly while skin tones remain warm and inviting. Evident in wardrobe, facial details and backgrounds, detail is crisp and clear while, black levels, sans minimal instances of speckling, appear inky and visible. Joined by a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix, dialogue is always audible and excused of any distortion while, Goldsmith’s ghostly score and sound effects ranging from a rainstorm to glass shattering deliver a noticeably pleasing increase in authority. Finally, special features include, the film’s Theatrical Trailer (1:57) and The Onion Field Theatrical Trailer (1:59).
Rarely missing a beat, Malice is a wickedly entertaining examination of three individuals and the complex circumstances that befall on them. Constantly keeping viewers guessing and in a state of shock, Director Harold Becker’s thriller delivers memorable performances from its core performers and effective turns from its supporting players including, Bebe Neuwirth and Anne Bancroft. In addition, Kino Lorber Studio Classics issues this endlessly mysterious gem with splendid technical specifications that greatly enrich the viewing experience. Blending deception, murder and betrayal, Malice is an exhilarating mystery that will viewers blindsided.
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