'Shattered': lush-looking fluff has ending that cons the audience

October 11, 1991|By Dallas Morning News

For its first two-thirds, "Shattered" is a nice, elegant, completely preposterous thriller.

Personal confrontations are accompanied by torrents of rain. Magnificent homes are located near the seashore, apparently so the viewer can thrill to the pounding surf. No opportunity for melodramatic embellishment is overlooked.

The dialogue is suitably ludicrous. A private eye, who also operates a pet shop, comments knowingly that among certain species of fish, the rival females automatically kill each other. You know he's not just talking about fish.

The heightened mood is similar to "Dead Again" although, even at its best moments, "Shattered" never matches that film's wit or exuberance. And, unfortunately, its best moments end when the final third begins. The movie's conclusion plays a con game on its audience, whose members may not take kindly to the duplicity.

The film starts ominously, with a car accident that almost kills successful businessman Dan Merrick. His beautiful wife, Judith, miraculously survives with minor injuries, but Dan must undergo extensive surgery. When he comes out of his coma, he has amnesia.

Judith lovingly nurses Dan back to relative normalcy. But Dan learns some unpleasant things about himself. Before the accident, he was a ruthless businessman and cold-hearted husband. And there are some erotic photos he discovers of Judith and another man. His abrasive business partner, Jeb, and Jeb's discontented wife, Jenny, hint pointedly at sexual misconduct on everyone's part.

Dan, now a perfectly decent sort of guy in the tradition of the

rejuvenated heroes of "Regarding Henry" and "The Doctor," faces a past filled with crooked business dealings, adultery and maybe even murder.

Wolfgang Petersen, whose credits include "Das Boot" and "The Neverending Story," must have been in a lightheaded mood when he wrote and directed this lush-looking fluff. He apparently sought to evoke the mood of steamy 1940s melodrama, but the && mood evaporates as the plot's implausibility multiplies.

Tom Berenger looks appropriately bewildered and vulnerable as Dan, who may have discovered decency too late, and Greta Scacchi makes a completely believable "mystery woman" as Judith, who combines lustiness with a true aristocratic nature.

'Shattered'

Starring Tom Berenger and Greta Scacchi.

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.

Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Rated R.

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