Movie Magazine International

What Lies Beneath

USA - 2000

Movie Review By Monica Sullivan

I love Humphrey Bogart more than any other movie star, but some roles were simply beyond him as an actor: Vampires. Cowboys. Homicidal husbands. Even so, Warner Bros. insisted that he tackle every script they gave him or risk suspension. If the first Bogie movie you see happens to be "The Return of Dr. X" or "The Oklahoma Kid" or "The Two Mrs. Carrolls," you may wonder what all the fuss was about. As Claire Spencer in "What Lies Beneath," Michelle Pfeiffer acts her little heart out in the sort of part that Barbara Stanwyck played so well and so often: the deeply distressed, entirely sane wife. Virtually imprisoned in an idyllic setting, surrounded by friends and neighbors who handle her like a porcelain doll, poor little Claire can't muster up true respect from anyone, least of all herself. A loyal wife, an affectionate mum & a gifted musician (on permanent hiatus), Claire just doesn't know what to do with herself after daughter Caitlin leaves for college.

A year ago there was a disturbing incident in Claire's life, referred to constantly, but never shown, not even in flashback. The disturbing incident has something to do with a tiny little mistake made by husband Norman. The instant we know that Harrison Ford is playing a guy called Norman, we know that something is terribly wrong. We also know from the previews that Norman had an affair with a student who looked JUST like Claire, but with green eyes instead of blue. The advance buzz on the movie tried to suggest something as spooky as "The Sixth Sense", but way different. Instead we sit through a story that refuses to play fair & show the story. It plays every scurvy trick in the book to avoid playing fair including the casting of Harrison Ford. Like Bogie, Ford is an icon with a long track record for playing guys who make sense. Let's just say that "What Lies Beneath" represents an ill-chosen point of departure and let it go at that. Like the ludicrously overpraised "Forrest Gump" by Robert Zemeckis, the best thing about "What Lies Beneath" by Robert Zemeckis is that I never have to see it again.

© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 7/19/00

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