Picks and Pans Review: Dead Gorgeous

UPDATED 07/14/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/14/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (check local listings)
Critic's Choice


Hitchcock fans will discern echoes of Strangers on a Train in this droll Mystery! adaptation of a 1989 novel by British author Peter Lovesey (who cowrote the script). But here it's two old friends, not strangers, who get enmeshed in a plot to kill each other's mate. When vixenish Antonia Ashton (Helen McCrory) encounters mousy Rose Bell (Fay Ripley) on a London sidewalk in 1946, they learn they're both trapped in unhappy marriages—Antonia to a wealthy and insufferably dull business tycoon, Rose to a cheating, penny-pinching cretin who abuses her verbally and physically. Feigning concern for Rose's plight, Antonia convinces the battered wife she'd be much better off as a widow—then makes her one by cold-bloodedly engineering a fatal "accident" for Rose's husband. But then Antonia, anxious to move to America with her younger lover, a studly physics professor, wants a certain favor in return. Will Rose come through—or will she wilt?

Though the twisty black comedy veers occasionally into mordant farce (the kind in which a corpse is dragged up a flight of stairs in one scene, only to be hauled back down a couple of scenes later), it's redeemed by the lead performances. Ripley sublimely conveys Rose's repressed pleasure upon hearing of her louse of a spouse's demise, and McCrory has a smashing good time as scheming Antonia. At one point, seeking out her boyfriend at his health club, she brazenly strides through a locker room full of naked men. It's hard to hate a villainess as cheeky as that.

BOTTOM LINE: A howdunit to die for

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Lupita Nyong'o: Most Beautiful!
  • Chelsea Clinton is Pregnant!
  • Exclusive Royal Tour Diary

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters