Obvious plot fools no one in unimaginative 'Deceived'

September 27, 1991|By Stephen Wigler

"Deceived" won't fool you: It's a piece of trash.

Goldie Hawn stars as an art restorer who's been married for five years to a curator (John Heard), by whom she has a daughter. Just when Hawn begins to suspect that her perfect husband is vTC not all she thought, he dies in an automobile accident.

Her efforts to collect his insurance benefits lead her to discover that Heard had been using the Social Security number of a man who had died 16 years before. But during her search for her husband's genuine identity, someone ransacks her apartment several times, murdering her au pair girl in the process. The killer is looking for something he left behind -- a stolen museum artifact worth more than $4 million.

Take one guess about the identity of the killer.

As obvious as "Deceived" is, it contains a few good frights. Jack N. Green's camera takes the killer's perspective, skipping scarily from room to room, and director Damian Harris paces the action with appropriate speed. But knowing that someone is about to be killed and guessing when is the only suspenseful thing about this movie.

Hawn is pretty good in a rare dramatic role -- her giggling is restrained -- and Heard is good as the deceiving husband. But the movie falls apart under the tiniest scrutiny (one must blame Mary Agnes Donoghue and Derek Saunders' awful screenplay).

For instance, how could any intelligent woman -- much less one so resourceful as Hawn's character -- be so easily fooled by a man she has lived with for five years? (We are not talking here about minor lies and indiscretions, but about major sociopathic disorders.) Then there are the other absurdities the plot asks us to accept, such as the misidentification of the body in Heard's Volvo or the identity of the person whom Heard picks up before the accident. "Deceived" makes a slightly better-than-average thriller such as "Defenseless" seem like a masterpiece.


Starring Goldie Hawn and John Heard.

Directed by Damian Harris.

Released by Touchstone Pictures.

Rated PG-13.

... * 1/2

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