Many professional critics have written negative reviews of this film, but I for one found this film to be entertaining and intriguing. The character study of Stan, the detective brilliantly played by Willem Dafoe, is excellent. The viewer gets a very good sense of the despair and nihilism of this character who is trying to solve the case of a brutal serial killer who uses anamorphous art as his repugnant theme.
The film is reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs in its mood and style, but in some ways it is a better film. Certainly, it does not have the charismatic evil character of Hannibal played by Anthony Hopkins, but I think this is a positive. The film focuses more on the character of Stan rather than that of the serial killer, the stress inherent in being a detective in such cases, and the conveying of the banal and sadistic evil of serial killers who see humans as just another animal that one can hunt and torture. In fact, the character of Stan comments on how it is virtually impossible to discern the motivations of a serial killer and to just look at the facts as they are presented, since not even the killer may know what his motivation is.
The film is, however, somewhat weak in its storyline. The viewer never fully understands why the serial killer is interested in killing Stan or his friends. Why the personal interest? We also understand why Stan may be interested in working as a lone wolf, but we fail to understand why he is allowed to operate in such a fashion. It is also confusing how the serial killer seems to be going out of his way to be caught, and one wonders why he isn't any sooner. Nevertheless, these problems in the story are secondary to the nature of the film, which is a study of the character of Stan and the modus operandi of this particular serial killer.
If you liked The Silence of the Lambs, you will probably enjoy this film. If you enjoy psychological thrillers with a gritty realism, you will also probably enjoy it.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A great movie, gutted halfway throughJuly 20 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Do you remember Seven, that awesome thriller with Pitt and Freeman and Spacey? Do you remember just how wrong the murder scenes were? Get ready to feel that sensation again with Anamorph, the movie that really, truly could have been.
Dafoe plays Detective Stan Aubray, a burnt-out, alcoholic, OCD forensic psychologist, on the trail of a killer that poses his victims in mind bogglingly complex poses.
The acting and storytelling of this is top notch. The feel thats recreated with alarming clarity is Seven, right down to the energetic, cocky and somewhat arrogant new guy paired with the grizzled, embittered veteran. The partner, however, is quickly dealt off, and the plot begins to nose dive after an hour. Dafoes character begins to ignore police protocol, common sense and eventually any sense of morals by the end of the film. Actions begin to become hollow and drawn out, without any apparent sense or purpose. Side plots, including a reporter with apparent romantic tension and Dafoes partner investigating Dafoes character as a copycat killer are chewed up and choked fatally on, dying after one or two hesitant breaths
The only assumption that I can come up with is that the initial writer either died or walked away halfway through, as a competent director, no matter how fervent, could've have botched a movie so badly and still had so many fantastic scenes. The best I can recommend is to rent this truly tragically still-born gem and watch to just after the third murder, then imagine a climax and ending, as nothing you can come up with could compare to the sheer awfulness of the hackneyed cop-out that was made, which resembles a freight train attempting to toot out the tune to the end of 2001 crashing into a brickwall.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It's Good if You Look from the Correct PerspectiveJune 19 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
A lot of people think that Gary Ridgway killed people because, well, he liked to kill people. Other people believe that he killed prostitutes because, at least partially, he wanted free sex. Look at it from whatever perspective you want, but from my angle, I'll go with the latter.
Early on in the film, Willem Dafoe, who seems to be a college-professor-slash-murder-detective, warns his students with something like the following: "When you view a murder scene, take your time and look at it for awhile before deciding why the killer killed. After all, he may not even know himself." Indeed. When Dave Reichert asked Mr. Ridgway if he was different than other people, if he was perhaps missing something vital in his personality that caused him to be a serial killer, Mr. Ridgway just shrugged his shoulders and more asked than answered, "Maybe that whole 'caring' thing?" (I found that line darkly humorous myself, as probably did the filmmakers of "The Hunt for the Green River Killer." I don't believe Mr. Reichert found it amusing, however.)
And this is the setup for a film that I found quite underrated. The theme would probably be simply "perspective." Mr. Dafoe, who I think has chosen a few roles lately that have gone off the rails -- see "Antichrist" and "444: Last Day on Earth" to name but two -- chose to play another character here that is slightly off, but not completely. He's much more controlled, and even though his character has had a dark and troubled past, plays it close to the vest. At first, I thought that he was one of those "gatekeeper" guys, or someone that purposefully hides information at work to stay ahead of his peers. But that would be too simplistic, kind of like those people above that think that Mr. Ridgway killed because, well, he liked to kill people. Like Mr. Ridgway, Mr. Dafoe's character is certainly more complex than that.
This film is surely "artsy," and usually, that could easily be a turn off for me. But while this film is surely not completely realistic -- I don't believe that any serial killer could ever completely pose a scene with the foresight that this one does -- I don't think that this film has to be completely realistic. Just like all of the "artwork" that the serial killer here "creates," this film could be argued to be "art" as well. At least I saw it that way.
I took an art appreciation class in college, which probably helped a little in understanding some of the complexities and terminology in this film. While I am far from an expert, I'll bet art students would probably appreciate this film the most. But even from my limited perspective, I found this film quite interesting, and I'll give it a pretty big recommendation.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Willem Dafoe is the bomb..June 25 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a very artistic, creative crime drama. It will leave you panting for the sequel. I bought though I had caught it on cable.
Intriguing, though it doesn't live up to its potential.Jan. 14 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Anamorph (Henry Miller, 2007)
The first review I saw after watching this movie started out with the sentence "this movie could have been so much better than it actually was." And I agreed with it, but then I started thinking: how many movies can you not say that about? I've seen thousands over the course of my life, and I can think of--maybe--half a dozen that would qualify. That said, I do totally get where that reviewer was coming from. This is a movie that had almost limitless potential, but got sidetracked by a few bad decisions along the way.
Plot: a serial killer is at work in the big city. Stan Aubray (The Boondock Saints' Willem Dafoe), who retired after the city's last big serial killer case, Uncle Eddie, is called in by his old boss (The Box's James Rebhorn, a fine actor we don't see on the screen nearly enough these days) thanks to some startling similarities to the Uncle Eddie slayings five years earlier. He finds himself teamed with impulsive go-getter Carl Uffner (The Strangers' Scott Speedman), who has a tendency to jump to conclusions, though he is about to get promoted to the same Detective First Class role Aubray has. (That Aubray also jumps to conclusions, and got his promotion by doing so, is understood.) The media and the police believe this new guy is a copycat killer, but the longer Aubray works the case, the more convinced he is that five years ago, they got the wrong man. And now Uncle Eddie is after Stan Aubray...
I've only begun to talk about the amazing cast that populates this film. Peter Stormare plays a shady art expert who helps Aubray with his investigation (as well as helps him acquire cut-rate antique furniture). Clea DuVall (Identity), who never became the household name she should have, is the best friend of Uncle Eddie's final murder victim, who has become friends with Aubray (they both want something more, but are far too damaged to ever act on it), while Debbie Harry (Videodrome) plays his downstairs neighbor, who may also have designs on him.
On the other hand, there's Scott Speedman, and the more I see Scott Speedman, the more I think he's the go-to guy for casting agents when the director says "get me Ryan Reynolds" and Mr. Reynolds is not available. Not that Ryan Reynolds is any great shakes as an actor (the both of them are blown away by the similarly-profiled Joshua Jackson), but he's head and shoulders over Speedman. That was the bad casting decision. Flipping things around, I'm not sure Miller, who also wrote the screenplay, was the right choice for a director here. I haven't seen any of his other stuff, so can't comment as to thematics vis-a-vis his directorial style, but I got the feeling that another director could have done this complex script more justice than Miller did. David Fincher, maybe? And no, I didn't pull that name out of my hat; Anamorph is a movie that wears its love for Se7en firmly on its sleeve. I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing, given that Se7en is one of the greatest not-so-buddy-cop movies ever made, but there are bits and pieces where this movie looked as if it had been assembled from cutting-room floor bits of Se7en with added footage. There's a line between homage and rip-off, as we are constantly told. It's not all that fine a line, in most cases. To keep one foot on either side of it requires either amazing dexterity or amazing incompetence. As with Brian DePalma's Blowout, I could never quite tell whether Miller was keeping his balance.
All that said, I think the reception this film got blows goat. It played on one screen, for three weeks, and one of those weekends grossed $239, according to IMDB. This is a far, far better movie than those numbers would indicate. Whether it's overly complex or simply sloppy is subject to debate (I think the former), but the fact that people will debate it on the Internet for months is a solid indicator that whether people liked the film or not, they were still thinking about it. ***
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Guilty of Multiple Murders--Of Entertainment And Of LogicSept. 24 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Oh, Blessed Serial Killers! Where would the world of entertainment be without them? In 1995, David Fincher made "Seven." By no means was "Seven" the first or even the best serial killer film ever made, but it has set the standard for the modern wave of imitators. With its bleak visual style and delicately staged murder tableaus, it reinforced the notion of the serial killer as a artistic genius. I mention "Seven" explicitly because its influence can be felt in every frame of the unfortunate "Anamorph." In fact, the only thing that "Anamorph" really has going for it is an interesting visual perspective--but in no way is that enough to sustain the length of this exercise in tedium.
Hoping to uncover a gem, or at least a solid entertainment, I eagerly sat down to "Anamorph." Willem Dafoe is a dynamic actor, Scott Speedman is just hitting his stride, and Clea Duvall is dependably solid. What could go wrong? Even if the film wasn't a masterpiece, surely it would be a bit of dirty fun. I couldn't have been further from the mark--this film was so glacially paced on top of being so ridiculously plotted that I literally counted the minutes until the end. The killer in "Anamorph" sets up murder scenes so intricate, so precise, so over the top. I just wished he'd have channeled his unequalled brilliance into something more productive than grisly murders. Even in a time crunch, he was reliably on target even with the smallest detail. At one point, with Dafoe hot on his trail, the killer had time to execute a full back tattoo on one of his victims that was so complex and specific that a team of artists couldn't have pulled it off in a studio. Another murder scene was reliant on about 100 pieces of his victim being hung from the air so that if you looked from one spot, a horrible vision was put together. Forget artistic merit (I mean wow!), this dude probably had to study engineering and physics (invisibility and time travel probably wouldn't have hurt either since he'd need days or weeks to complete this intricate puzzle without being discovered).
But points of believability are of little consequence in the long run. I can go with the flow in these sorts of film as long as there is some entertainment value. "Anamorph" commits the deadliest of sins--it is startlingly dull as well. Dafoe is all over the place, Duvall is incredibly unconvincing. The case makes little sense in the real world and the momentum is lacking. Perhaps the director channeled all his energy into create the visual style and fashioned that he was making an art film. If so, and if that's the only thing to admire, I still say "Seven" has already been there--so what's the point? KGHarris 9/10.