|Written by Bill Warren|
|Tuesday, 01 June 2004|
From the look and sound of the opening credits onward, it’s clear that the makers of ‘Final Analysis’ want to make a ‘50s Hitchcock-style thriller. However, the direction of Phil Joanou (who has since done a lot of work with U2) is so insistent on trying to be both hip and melodramatic that his affectations cancel each other out. We can’t quite believe in the characters, so we’re not invested when things start going wrong.
Acoustically, ‘Final Analysis’ has some unusual dialogue levels. Joanou has the cast speak in near-whispers most of the time. When an ambient rainstorm kicks in at normal volume in Chapter 6, it’s a relief. Chapter 14 contains shots of the Golden Gate bridge that appear to have been meticulously color-processed to match the look of newly-minted ‘50s/’60s film prints. Shots down the length of a lighthouse in the same chapter and in Chapter 35 contain ‘50s/’60s-style optical process shots that would be a lot cleaner-looking had ‘Final Analysis’ been made just a few years later. George Fenton’s score is so heavy on strings and horns that it becomes a cliché in itself -- the already overwrought emotions hardly need this sort of musical emphasis.
A sex scene in Chapter 8 shows lots of skin (and proves that we’re not in the Hays Code era any more) without revealing a single interesting or even endearing trait of either participant. Gere does his best to make Barr sympathetic, but there’s only so much he can do without the support of the material. Basinger, whose part becomes goofier as it goes along, likewise gets little aid in making Heather’s contradictory personality seem cohesive.
To the credit of screenwriter Wesley Strick, working from a story credit to him and Robert Berger, if viewers can hang in until Chapter 24, the narrative becomes genuinely intriguing, if never entirely plausible. Finally, ‘Analysis’ succeeds as a guilty pleasure. Its screwy reversals pile up so thickly that we wind up in the position of wanting to know what comes next, even though we don’t believe a word of it.