A "thrill-free" thriller, "Killing Me Softly" sat on the shelf for nearly two years before finally being sent direct-to-cable. The basics certainly sounded promising - a highly erotic thriller starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes, directed by Chen Kaige (the extraordinary "Emperor and the Assassin", as well as "Farewell My Concubine"). For some reason, it's produced by Ivan Reitman (director of "Ghostbusters").
Graham stars as Alice, a web site designer who is in a relationship that's become too familiar. After a brief first meeting, Alice falls for Adam (Joseph Fiennes). The two fall deeper for one another (they're rolling around on the floor quickly after meeting on the street - later in the film she complains that she "hardly knows him") and eventually, get married. However, Alice keeps receiving notes from a mysterious stranger, who continues to warn her about her husband's past. Is he who he says he is? Do we care? Not really. There's not a great deal of plot to the film, as Alice continually makes bad (some spectacularly so) decisions and Adam simply doesn't talk much.
The film's reason for being, it seems, are its sex scenes, which occur a few times throughout and are quite intense. Fans of Heather Graham nudity (and, honestly, who isn't?) will have a lot to like here. Unfortunately, her performance certainly isn't one of her finest. Although she proved that she can provide a solid dramatic performance in "Boogie Nights", her emotional scenes here are very unconvincing. Fiennes is rather dull, although it really seems like an issue of not having much of a character to play. Both of the actors have moments with the often terrible dialogue that turn unintentionally hilarious. I've been told the book is terrific, so something must have gotten lost in the adaptation.
There's really not much else to say about the film. "Killing Me Softly" moves along at a snail's pace, and it doesn't help that the ending twist is obvious from fairly early on. A pretty big dissapointment, especially considering the talent involved.
Both Rated and Unrated editions of the DVD are available. The additions in the Unrated cut didn't seem substancial, as there didn't seem to be anything noticable I didn't remember when I saw the film on cable a few months ago.
VIDEO: "Killing Me Softly" is presented by MGM/UA in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame on this dual-sided, single-layer DVD. The anamorphic widescreen presentation is awfully good, although it does show some noticable faults at times. Sharpness and detail are stellar, as the picture remained crystal clear throughout most of its running time.
The print used here appeared crisp and clean, with only a couple of very slight, very brief specks keeping it from looking entirely flawless. Some light grain appeared in a couple of scenes, but it seemed intentional. Compression artifacts weren't seen, either. The presentation's only real flaw was edge enhancement - mild and somewhat irritating amounts were seen in a handful of scenes.
The film's natural color palette was reproduced well, with fine saturation and no smearing or other issues. Black level remained solid, as did flesh tones. A nice effort, but the edge enhancement was a concern.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is certainly front-heavy, with the surrounds only kicking in for a couple of scenes. This is a quiet (too quiet) drama though, and there's really not much need for the rear speakers to be used. Audio quality is decent, as the score and dialogue remained crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: The film's trailer and trailers for "Some Like It Hot", "Original Sin" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien".
Final Thoughts: A very mediocre thriller, "Killing Me Softly" generates more laughs than it does thrills or drama. MGM's DVD is a bare-bones effort, with fine audio/video, but no supplements explaining what happened with this project. Lightly recommended as a rental for Heather Graham fans.