Malice: A Good Early 90’s Mystery Movie
What I Remembered: Malice was a movie that I missed when it came out and because of that it took me a long time to see it. The main cast of Alec Baldwin, Bill Pullman, and Nicole Kidman had roused my curiosity since all were very good actors. Still, I put off watching it figuring that there must have been something wrong with it if I had avoided it for such a long period of time. But, a few years ago when I was desperate to see something new, I decided to give it a shot. Viewing it again recently, what I found was a good movie with an interesting story and a more than adequate plot twist.
The Story: Malice is centered around its main character Andy Safian (Bill Pullman) the dean of a prestigious all female college in Massachusetts. Andy is happily married to his wife Tracy (Nicole Kidman) with whom he is desperate to have a child. At the beginning of the picture, Andy rushes to the local hospital because one of his students has been attacked and sexually assaulted in her home. The attack follows the same pattern as those of two other students of the college who have suffered the same fate from a serial rapist that the local police have been unable to catch. It appears that the young woman is so badly injured the she may not survive, but after some near miracle work by Jed Hill (Alec Baldwin) the highly talented new hot shot surgeon at the hospital, she survives. Andy goes to speak with Jed after the surgery is complete to thank him for his work and they discover that they went to high school together. Jed is very cool and charming much like he was in high school and the best way to describe it is that Andy has a non-sexual man crash on him. As Andy is about to leave the hospital he runs into to Tracy who volunteers there, and he briefly introduces her to Jed.
Andy and Jed then develop a fast friendship. When Jed tells Andy that he can’t find a place to live in town Andy who is strapped for cash, and in need of a renter in the spacious Old Victorian home that he shares with Tracy, offers to let Jed rent his down stairs bedroom. Jed accepts and after some slight resistance from Tracy, he moves in. The latter soon comes to find the living arrangement to be slightly annoying particularly one evening when Jed spends hours in bed with a nurse from the hospital which keeps Tracy and Andy from falling asleep. Tracy is also struggling with terrible stomach pains which are preventing her from getting pregnant and is resentful of the fact that Jed knows about her condition.
Later one evening when Tracy takes a serious turn for the worse and she is in need of surgery her, Andy and Jed’s path collide in a way that was not anticipated. What happens after this, will alter Andy’s life forever.
Technical Details: Malice was not an extraordinary piece of work, but it was good. Harold Becker did a satisfactory job directing especially with the film’s pacing as it moves along quite well. Another facet. of his direction was his ability to create the environment that all of the characters inhabit in an interesting and fairly realistic way. In addition to this, Aaron Sorkin, Jonas McCord, and Scott Frank delivered a very good screenplay. I think that one of the attributes of the script was that it contained all of the exemplary elements of a Sorkin penned work, but because there were other writers involved with it, the aspects of his writing that I find boring and slightly annoying were not present. His often overly sophisticated , staccato, vocabulary laden dialogue was barely there, which made the screenplay more enjoyable than I usually find his work. By the same token the subplot of the serial rapist further augmented the plot and flow of the story.
Finally, the acting was almost excellent, but there are unfortunately a few moments where it feels a bit contrived. Kidman and Pullman were very convincing and had good chemistry as a couple. Along with this, Josef Sommer, Bebe Neuwirth, and George C. Scott were great in supporting parts and Gwyneth Paltow and Anne Bancroft made two memorable, but brief appearances in their respective roles. However, in my humble opinion, Alec Baldwin was the star. He played the role of the cocky Jed Hill wonderfully. Seeing him in his heyday was a reminder that despite his vast personal problems he can be a great actor.
End Credits: Malice was not a great movie, but it was a good movie. It has an intriguing, original story and good performances. It is interesting and entertaining and it leaves you curious to see how it will end. You can’t ask for much more from a film in its genre. So, if you’re seeing it for the nearly two hours that it takes to do so, it will be time well spent.