Still of the Night (1982)

Article 4513 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-23-2014
Directed by Robert Benton
Featuring Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy
Country: USA
What it is: Hitchcock homage

When one of his patients is killed, a psychiatrist becomes involved with a woman who the patient had been having an affair with… and who just might have been his murderer.

One name that is probably not going to pop up very often in this series is Meryl Streep’s. She has the reputation of being one of the finest modern film actresses, but she rarely appears in anything that even comes close to the genres that I’m covering; in fact, I can only think of one other movie off the top of my head that I’ll be covering of hers. I’m even a bit surprised that she appears in this one, but I’m assuming that it may have something to do with the fact that director Robert Benton’s previous film was KRAMER VS KRAMER, which won several Oscars, including one for Streep. Still, I don’t begrudge her her reputation; it’s fascinating to watch how she physicalizes her character and makes it live and breathe. The movie is a Hitchcock homage; it’s played very subtly, and many of the Hitchcock references (I see some to REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO and PSYCHO, and if I were up on my Hitchcock, I’d catch some more) feel organic and well-placed within the story. Scheider does his usual fine job as well, and I do like the Hitchcockian sense of humor that pops up now and again. Overall, I’d say it’s very well done, but it’s one of those movies that seems a little less than the sum of its parts; individual moments work quite well, but as a whole, it’s not quite satisfying; it feels second-hand (probably because it is a homage) and the mystery seems a little obvious. In short, it’s good, but it’s not a classic while reminding you of many movies that are.


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