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2002 / color / 1:85 anamorphic 16:9 / 94 min. / Street Date May 6, 2003 / 24.95
Starring Gina Gershon, Sean Patrick Flanery, Michael Biehn, Nick Boraine, Eddie Driscoll
Cinematography Michael Brierley
Production Designer Tom Hannam
Film Editor Peter Byck
Original Music Anthony Marinelli
Written by David Loucka
Produced by Frank Hübner, Brad Krevoy, David Lancaster, Adam Richman
Directed by Evelyn Maude Purcell

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

A reasonably well-directed neo-noir suspense film that suffers from an iffy main performance in a blah script, Borderline doesn't distinguish itself enough from dozens of similar thrillers to stay in the memory.

This South African production manages to fool us into thinking it's happening in the States, and director Purcell has a reasonably good eye for where to put the camera, but the plot of this generic thriller never takes off.

Attractive but often blank-faced Gina Gershon plays Dr. Lila Coletti, a prison psychologist victimized by both the system and one of her insane convict patients. In an attempt to draw out psychotic murderer Ed Baikman (Sean Patrick Flanery), Coletti tells him of her own traumatic childhood. Flannery's moody performance would be fine, were his character anything remotely interesting. Soon Coletti's ex-husband is found murdered with his new girlfriend, which conveniently grants Lila not only the return of her divorce-estranged sweet daughters, but the deed to his sizeable estate.

The police are quick to suspect that Coletti's hubbie's demise was a killing for hire. Unfortunately, Gershon's reactions are so vague that we can't tell if she's trying to keep her possible guilt a floating ambivalence, or if she simply hasn't read the script. Nothing that happens is sufficiently interesting to draw us into the story.

Complications ensue, which naturally point the law's finger at Lila. She was seen at a bar with another former inmate/patient, who conveniently end up dead with the kinds of drugs Lila uses at work pumped into his veins. Worse, she has a cut on her arm that she can't account for.

Coletti naturally makes things worse for herself by not confiding the truth as she learns it to her boyfriend, detective Macy Kobacek (an okay Michael Biehn), who just happens to be her sleep-in boyfriend and is breaking all the rules of his job to protect her. The glaring plot 'wrinkle' that Lila's case just happens to be assigned to Macy, puts the stamp of hackneyed meaninglessness onto David Loucka's script. From then on it's just a formulaic series of frustrating setbacks for Lila, nicely paced, but unmemorable just the same.

A standard murder mystery with an unusually uninvolving development, Borderline is mysteriously rated R but is definitely not an exploitation film or an erotic thriller (no nudity in the love scenes, hardly any swearing). The supporting cast puts in straight stock performances, and it is only Ms. Purcell's nice visual eye that keeps the story interesting. Her detours into little dream scenarios and flashbacks to Lila's childhood are handsomely arranged. Purcell started producing with Jonathan Demme thirty years ago, and has an interesting list of directing and producing credits.

As usual with these convoluted mysteries that heap on the evidence against the heroine, the ending resolves the body count but doesn't tell us why Lila would necessarily be acquitted. From a police point of view, the windup leaves things in a way that makes her appear even more guilty, as if she had pulled in yet another helper - her cop boyfriend - to kill off her first accomplice.

Columbia TriStar's DVD looks and sounds great, as it should for such a new picture. There are subs in 7 languages and trailers for other Sony thrillers, but not for this movie. That means that there aren't any real Special Features in Sony' list of 8 - unless you count an interactive menu as a Special Feature.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Borderline rates:
Movie: Fair
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: none
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: May 12, 2003

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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