From the Archive — Deceived

hawn deceived

In the early nineteen-nineties, drab psychological thrillers were inescapable at the multiplex. At around the same time, Goldie Hawn clearly felt a need to take her career in a different direction. These situations converged, and it was not pretty. This was written for the weekly movie news and review program I co-hosted at my college radio station, early in our second season.  

First of all, it’s refreshing to see Goldie Hawn taking on a role that directly counters the cute, flighty airhead roles that she’s been typecast into for most of the nineteen-eighties. It seemed as though every film she was in required her play a slight variation on her admittedly terrific performance in Private Benjamin. But from Protocol to Wildcats, the material she was given was lacking, and eventually seeing that character over and over again grew grating. So the new film Deceived deserve praise for the simple that it gives Hawn a chance to play a different character. However, it’s not much of a character, and it’s not much of a movie.

In the film, Hawn plays a woman whose life appears to be perfect. She’s got a loving husband, an adorable young daughter, her own business. Things couldn’t be better. But then her world starts to crumble when she begins making discoveries about her husband. First, there are little things: lies about people he knows, lies about work. But soon, she’s discovering the deceptions run far deeper. The film then develops into a thriller, but it’s a limp one. Mary Agnes Donoghue’s script is so devoid of suspense that director Damian Harris has to resort to screeching cats to make the audience jump.

Both Hawn and John Heard — playing the husband — are talented performers, but there’s so little substance to their characters and their relationship that it would be nearly impossible for them to draw us into the film. They simply don’t have enough to work with. They have nothing to do except move through shadows and dimly lit corridors as the film drags along. There’s a very clever ending, but it’s a case of too little, too late.

Hawn is viewing this film as the beginning of a new direction for her career. I admire the effort, but Deceived is an awfully shaky film to start over with.

1 and 1/2 stars, out of 4.