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Final Analysis Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 June 2004

Final Analysis
Warner Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: Richard Gere, Kim Basinger, Uma Thurman, Eric Roberts
release year: 1992
film rating: Two-and-a-half stars
reviewed by: Bill Warren

‘Final Analysis’ is one of those peculiar films that exudes a strange fascination despite itself. The longer it goes, the sillier it gets, yet the plot twists -- outrageous as they are -- compel us to keep watching.

Richard Gere stars as Dr. Isaac Barr, a San Francisco psychiatrist who hires himself out as an expert defense witness in insanity cases when he’s not treating his regular patients. When he complains wistfully to a friend of his life’s monotony -- "I just want to be surprised" -- we know he’s in a for a major dose of "be careful what you wish for." One of Isaac’s newest clients is Diana (Uma Thurman), a beautiful young neurotic who may be reacting to a past trauma. When Diana urges Isaac to confer with her sister Heather (Kim Basinger), sparks soon fly. Isaac finds himself in the unethical position of sleeping with Heather (bad), who’s also the wife of a mobster (worse) and who apparently has a very odd reaction to alcohol (catastrophic). Naturally, as in all film noir, the situation isn’t quite what it seems.

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.

more details
sound format:
English Dolby Surround Stereo; French Dolby Surround Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
1:3:3 (full-frame, modified from original widescreen aspect ratio)
special features: French Language Track, Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 36-inch Sony XBR

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