Fatale (2020)
Fatale – 2020

Director Deon Taylor
Screenplay David Loughery
Starring Hilary Swank, Michael Ealy, Mike Colter, Geoffrey Owens, Damaris Lewis, Danny Pino, Tyrin Abenathy

There’s nothing quite as glamorous as beautiful people doing detestable things in a mystery. There is always unlimited means at their disposal, yet none on the screen can think of any other option than following the paths tread for them many other times in earlier films.

Michael Ealy, doing the best Jimmy Stewart I have seen in decades, is Derrick, a successful talent agent who is on the verge. His partner is obvious tool best friend Rafe (Colton). There’s an offer on the table to sell their business. Rafe wants to sell now. Derrick is proud of his accomplishment and wants to continue.

The other precipice in his life is his wife Tracie (Lewis), who spends a few too many late nights in her real estate business. He thinks she’s cheating on him. What kind of thriller would it be if she weren’t?

His wife convinces Derrick to go to Vegas with Rafe. While there, Rafe convinces Derrick to take off his ring. Will this lead to something with headliner Swank, playing Valerie? What kind of thriller would it be if he didn’t?

Once he gets back, after a night of reconciling with Tracie, Derrick is attacked by an intruder. When the police arrive, you’d never guess who shows up to be the lead investigator. Well, actually you would.

The rest of the story is filled with hints, allegations, twists and turns. Despite it being an absolute certainty what will happen next at any given moment, it’s all so well acted that you fall into the rhythm and go along with it. There is not one slow moment to the whole film, and that is saying something.

As I hinted before, Ealy is the perfect kind of actor for this role. His blue eyes just scream innocent, even when he does something wrong. Mostly because of the eyes, but damn he is a good actor. It’s not easy to play vulnerable when you were an ex-athlete. He handles it like he just doesn’t have the Type A gene, but he finds it when his mother tells him to have courage. Who wouldn’t stand straight when their mother demands it?

Swank is much more at ease in her role that I expected, but that’s on me. She’s good in everything, and is one of those actresses where Oscar got it right. Her motives are clearly spelled out by director Taylor and screenwriter Loughery. Even if it is obvious, the lived in nature of her performance makes it real.

The rest of the pieces fit a bit too nicely to be anything other than chess pieces. That is okay, though. Swank and Ealy play the board like master and learner. That’s inspired casting as much as writing and directing.

When I rented this film, I thought it would be another Fatal Attraction. I would have been alright with that. It’s not a duplicate of that 80’s film, but it borrows from many others without feeling cheap. This film is a good time showing beautiful bad people.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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