Picks and Pans Review: Shattered

updated 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/04/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Tom Berenger, Greta Scacchi

Amnesia, nature's most devious trick on man, is also the gods' gift to storytellers, because it makes the deuces wild—and scary as an open grave.

Tom Berenger is its latest screen victim. It's his life that's been shattered, by a violent accident: He doesn't recognize his nurturing wife (Scacchi), can't remember if a murder has been committed or if he might have committed it. He's afraid to turn to his business partner, Corbin Bernsen, and he may have turned to his partner's wife, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, once too often. Help must come from Bob Hoskins, a retired gumshoe who now runs a pet store because, he says, "After a lifetime of peeping through keyholes, you lose confidence in the human species."

Before director Wolfgang (Das Boot) Petersen gets through wringing you dry in this sleek, storm-tossed thriller, you may lose confidence in everybody. With the great Laszlo Kovacs manning the camera, and his superb imports (Scacchi, Hoskins and Whalley-Kilmer) blending with well-defined Americans (Berenger and Bernsen), Petersen has contrived to bring to California shores the dark Gothic texture of Rebecca and the decadent horror of Diabolique. Everyone pitches in here at full tilt, but Scacchi is truly a marvel: She has Ingrid Bergman's heady mix of serene beauty and arch evasiveness. Indeed, the ghosts of Bergman and Grant and Hitchcock himself loom like velvet shrouds over Shattered, a grand homage to the days when movies were, bewitchingly and beguilingly, movies. (R)

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