Identity is one of the top movies in my list of the most underrated thrillers of Hollywood. Loosely based on Agatha Christie’s novel ‘And there were none’, James Mangold executed an edge-of-the-seat suspense thriller from Michael Cooney’s brilliant script. Cooney deserves the glass of champagne for his poignant imagination. The beauty of every suspense is the anonymity and open structure that gives scope for deeper analysis.
11 people, Actress Carol Suzanne (Rebecca De Mornay) and her limousine driver Ed Dakota (John Cusack), Paris (Amanda Peet) a prostitute from Las Vegas, Autistic George York (John C McGinley) with his injured wife Alice (Leila Kinzle) and step son Timmy (Bret Loehr), Lou Isiana (William Scott) and his superstitious wife Ginny (Clea Duvall), Police Officer Rhodes (Ray Liotta) and his con (Robert Maine) and Larry (John Hawkes), find themselves stranded in a motel. It was raining heavily and either side of the long route is flooded due to the ponderous levels of rainwater. Then people start dying one by one, leaving a whodunit scenario as the killer is one of them.
The main attraction of a thriller (with a twist) is it’s ability to present a plot line that wouldn’t come across the viewer’s imagination. Most of these suspense thrillers might give scope for the audience to assume it. Sixth sense, Fight club, Psycho, Soylet Green, Planet of the Apes etc; all these cult classics apart, this is the one movie with a twist that will blow your mind. Throughout the experience of controlling my urges to drink water or to go downstairs and grab a snack, I was mentally trying to figure out what the conclusion of this film is. The fervent three-act-structure gave many possibilities but the twist is utterly unexpected. My mouth dropped literally when the climax was revealed.
The performances were adequate. Amanda Peet deserves more recognition for being a splendid actress. She plays a hooker who wants to live a different life but the circumstances put her in trouble. She acts with her eyes and noteworthy voice modulation. John Cusack and Ray Liotta gave their standard acting. It is no surprise that John Hawkes got nominated for an Oscar (8 years after this film’s release, for his role as a heroin addict in Winter’s bone). He played the most interesting character in this movie as the keeper of the motel with spontaneous reactions and liveliness. The entire movie is dark as it takes place at night in a motel. The general tone is dim and the cinematography is top class. We see the deep thoughts and emotions through the characters from each of their point of view. The absence of the silent killer throughout the film (until the end) is the intriguing part. The combination of photography and editing with apt music made this film a hair-raising experience to sit through. It is worth 1 hour and 30 minutes of your time.
Featured image: Identity official poster, Sony pictures