'Color of Night' leads viewers like a game of 'Clue'

By Doug Cummings

Arizona Daily Wildcat

"Color of Night" is one of those movies where it's easy to imagine excited Hollywood executives shouting, "'Basic Instinct' meets 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'! We'll need someone big, uh...Bruce Willis, okay, and some spicy sex with a hot actress... who was in 'The Lover'? Jane Marsh? Great!," and rolling up their new cinematic package with a list of recent box office grossings displayed prominently on their desks. "Color of Night" is a depressing movie when one realizes that current box office trends dictated its content.

The movie stars Bruce Willis as Bill Capa, a depressed New York psychologist who moves to L.A. to escape the trauma he is undergoing because of a patient's suicide. Capa begins attending a colleague's group therapy session, but soon afterwards the colleague is knifed to death by, presumably, one of the four people in the group.

This movie is supposed to work like a psychological game of Clue the audience knows who all the suspects are and as Capa talks with each patient, the audience is supposed to develop their own hypothesis. But because neither Capa, nor any of the patients, nor the repulsive detective in charge of the murder, nor anyone else in the movie is the slightest bit appealing, the audience won't care who did the killing. They'll only hope the movie will end sooner than it eventually does.

"Color of Night" is, sadly enough, directed by Richard Rush ("Getting Straight," "Freebie and the Bean") whose last movie was the remarkable "The Stunt Man" in 1981. One wonders why a creative director would wait thirteen years to make a movie as shallow and unremarkable as "The Color of Night." The camerawork is glossy, but the wit of "The Stunt Man" is sorely missing.

Bruce Willis spends the bulk of the movie sauntering around looking like he has a hangover. He joins in what appears to be a coalition between every actor in the movie to speak in hushed tones and grave murmurings, as if every tepid line of dialogue had some hidden meaning. After the first several scenes where everyone speaks like this, there's little motivation to continue looking for obscured meanings.

All of the patients, at one time or another, resemble people who have somehow escaped from maximum security mental wards. They suddenly scream, tremble, and look as much like murder suspects as possible. They all supposedly live normal lives. One wonders how.

Jane Marsh ("The Lover") plays the "enigmatic woman," Rose, who continually arrives where Capa is staying dressed as provocatively as possible, makes love with him, and then disappears as quickly as possible. She is referred to as the "enigmatic woman" because the screenwriters don't have a clue how to develop her character. Jane Marsh is an attractive woman, but her best acting work, if there is to be any, is still far ahead of her.

"Color of Night" has the sultry sheen of "Basic Instinct," the hideous murders of "Silence of the Lambs," the neon sets of chic design, and the inept writing and acting of a movie built solely out of popular elements. The result is an overly-budgeted cheap erotic thriller.

"Color of Night" is at Century Gateway.

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