There's something about British actors pretending to be American: they tend to be very convincing. And, indeed, Kenneth Branagh is very convincing as the L.A. private detective who is sent to discover the identity of amnesia victim, Emma Thompson - also sporting the latest must-have American accent.

The story is decidedly unique as Branagh's Mike Church finds the only way to discover Thompson's identity is through the use of hypnosis.

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While under Derek Jacobi's watchful eye, Thompson and Branagh soon realise they knew each other in a past life and one of them was murdered and, even worse, one of them might be the killer. Andy Garcia also stars as the intrepid journalist of 1948 who witnessed Branagh's past incarnation's death.

The plot may sound thin on paper, but is actually very interesting, with twists and turns at every corner and a potentially unexpected ending. While it may feel like an episode of Perry Mason, Kenneth Branagh proves that he ain't no Raymond Burr.

Robin Williams turns up unexpectedly in a nice little role as a former psychiatrist, who now runs a grocery store, acting as a confidant to Branagh, suggesting he indulge in a little murder. Wayne Knight's casting as Pete, the policeman, is pure genius, as he perfects another scene-stealing performance in the role of Kenny's funny friend.

It's obvious that Branagh had an invested interest off-screen, as well as on. The directing is simply beautiful as the star mixes colour and black-and-white (to represent the past, of course) with ease and without confusing the viewer. He pushes all the classic buttons to mount tension, from the fast editing to the crescendo of music. The main criticism might be levelled at the title, which suggests a cheesy horror flick, with buckets of blood and gallons of gore.

Regardless of this minor inadequacy, one word to sum it up would be "Whodunit?" Despite the obligatory happy ending, Dead Again is an enjoyable experience. The Branagh/Thompson chemistry is wonderful.

For fans of both actors, this is a must see.

Reviewed on: 05 Apr 2002
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Dead Again packshot
A private detective uses hypnosis to try to discover the identity of an amnesiac.
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Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Scott Frank

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Andy Garcia, Emma Thompson, Lois Hall, Richard Easton, Jo Anderson, Patrick Montes, Raymond Cruz, Robin Williams, Wayne Knight, Patrick Doyle

Year: 1991

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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