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George At 

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Dead Again

One of my favorite films of the early 90’s, DEAD AGAIN is a twisty little thriller that served as Kenneth Branagh’s introduction to American audiences. Branagh (Death on the Nile, Hamlet) stars as Mike Church, an LA private detective. He’s asked to find the identity of a mysterious, mute woman named Grace at a local catholic church.

Grace (Emma Thompson) is haunted by violent, nightly nightmares about a murder 50 years before.

In the flashbacks to her dreams, we meet famous pianist Roman Strauss (Branagh again) who violently murders his wife Margaret (Thompson again).

Mike is baffled by the woman and takes a personal interest in trying to discover who she is.

They are drawn to an eccentric antique shop owner Franklyn (the perfectly cast Derek Jacobi) who says that he can hypnotize Grace and discover her identity.

Branagh also directed the film and working off a witty, sharp screenplay by Scott Frank (Logan, Minority Report, The Queen’s Gambit) he keeps the surprises coming fast and furious.

They also create two compelling stories, drawing us into black & white flashbacks of Roman and Margaret’s whirlwind romance that always conclude in Roman stabbing her with a shiny, lethal pair of scissors.

The current story of the quest for Margaret’s past is just as engaging and Branagh and Thompson have palpable chemistry in both eras.

There are some great surprises and one jaw dropping one that hits you in the face just as Patrick Doyle’s music score punches you in the gut. Doyle (Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) creates a great score that’s as much Jerry Goldsmith as John Williams, one of his best.

Andy Garcia is terrific as Gray Baker, the perfect film noir reporter who’s in love with Margaret but holds secrets for Mike. Robin Williams has a great cameo as an eccentric former Doctor that holds several key pieces of the puzzle and Wayne Knight (Newman!!) is fun in a minor role.

This was shot in the early 90’s and some of Branagh’s uninterrupted shots and 360 camera moves were revolutionary at the time. The first hypnosis scene in the antique shop is a hell of a showcase for Branagh as a director.

Fast, clever and fun, DEAD AGAIN launched the film careers of Branagh and Thompson, both of whom continue to deliver the goods more than three decades later.

Remember….”these are for you”….

DEAD AGAIN gets an A.

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