Picks and Pans Review: Guilty as Sin

updated 06/21/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/21/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Rebecca De Mornay, Don Johnson

Talk about stretching yourself as a director: Sidney Lumet's last movie, A Stranger Among Us, starred Melanie Griffith as a cop who goes undercover as a Hasidic Jew. Mow Lumet has Griffith's husband. Johnson, hamming it up as a murderous gigolo. Johnson brandishes a knife, snarls like Jimmy Cagney and preens like a cat. But his performance is hardly the only thing that's not kosher.

De Mornay is a dazzlingly successful criminal-defense attorney. Her high-profile cases have attracted the attention of Johnson, a manipulative, immaculately dressed philanderer accused of killing his wealthy wife. "God put too damned many beautiful women on this earth," he says, explaining his compulsion to De Mornay. Has he sought therapy? "A woman psychiatrist," he responds. "You can imagine how that turned out. At least she didn't charge me for the sessions." For reasons best known to the screenwriter, De Mornay buys Johnson's jive and agrees to take his case.

Guilty as Sin bears a passing resemblance to Jagged Edge, Fatal Attraction and Shadow of a Doubt, but it does not have even inadvertently credible moments. How can it be that the razor-sharp De Mornay doesn't take a deposition from her client until trial's eve, then walks into an obvious trap involving attorney-client confidentiality? How can this tough and stylish woman go through so much of the film in tears—and often wearing the same clothes? Her ninnyish portrayal is an insult to women barristers everywhere. (R)

From Our Partners