Gregory Read’s film Like Minds was released in the US as Murderous Intent. The original title makes sense, so I will use it—the US title belongs to another movie, not the one I saw.
Alex (Eddie Redmayne), a British public school scion is charged with murder. The evidence is flimsy so the police bring in a psychologist, Sally (Toni Collette) to try, essentially, to get a confession out of him. He is cocky at first, wanting to prove to whatever audience that he is smarter than all of them. This patina comes off and he begins to explain the details to Sally.
A new boy starts school and is put in Alex’s room (until then, he has had a private room because his father is headmaster), Nigel (Tom Sturridge). Nigel is extremely pale and is fascinated with dead things apparently killing then dissecting them. Alex and Nigel don’t get along, as one would expect given that one of them fills the room with the smell of decay. Their relationship becomes very odd very quickly and just continues down that path. This is where Like Minds starts to make sense both as a title and theme.
This is the stopping off place for the plot summary. What follows will contain no spoilers.
There is only one major and one minor problem I have with the film—it isn’t a great film, but it is pretty tightly controlled—it relies on secret societies as part of the armature on which the movie is based. To me that is just a semi-mighty YAWN. The second is that group scenes are dull. Skip over that crap and the rest of the film is not disappointing.
It is predictable, but that isn’t at all a problem. It is a thriller, but the focus isn’t on what happens so much as how. And even deeper than that it is how the story is told. This is a standard guy in jail confesses to something (either the crime or whatever part he played) to a second party—it works best if the person is a psychologist, but it need not always be. Then the story is told primarily in flashback. Again, this would seem to be the same level of problem that predictability would tend to be. Again, it isn’t the “thrill;” it is the telling.
The three principles named in the review are what make the film worth watching. Mr. Redmayne is the link and does a very fine job. He and Ms. Collette (who gives any film, not matter how crappy, her last full measure—and she has not done too many bad films) are intense. What makes this most astounding to me is that Mr. Redmayne is the driver; she spends most of her time reacting to him.
The second pairing is Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Sturridge. They go from indifference to hate, from hate to indifference, then something akin to respect then something deeper than all of that. One on one they spar seamlessly. Here, Mr. Redmayne has to do the opposite of what he does when he is being interrogated. In the interrogation he is the one with the power (read knowledge) and the skills to play. When paired with Mr. Sturridge, things change and he is no longer the one in control. He does not part with this paradigm easily and a goodly portion of what makes the film good is seeing this happen.
I don’t care for the secret society thing at all, but I have to admit that the imagery around it is very tightly controlled. A decent portion of the movie happens in and around trains and this imagery is carried carefully, though sometimes brutally, throughout.
As a thriller it fails. The story on the whole is only fair at best. What rescues it from being just another silly secret society blah blah blah film are the intensity of the one on one scenes. If you would rather, just fast forward through the sections with more than three people in the scene and you will get the important artistic elements from the film (the story won’t be whole, but I’m not convinced that makes any difference here—I’m still digesting that).
What did you think of this review?