Murder By Numbers (2002)
Main cast: Sandra Bullock (Cassie Mayweather), Ryan Gosling (Richard Haywood), Michael Pitt (Justin Pendleton), Agnes Bruckner (Lisa), and Ben Chaplin (Sam Kennedy)
Director: Barbet Schroeder


High school kids. Heh. Worse, closeted high school kids. Heh. If someone has told Richard Haywood and Justin Pandleton that it is okay for them to shag, Leopold and Loeb will understand, they will have led much happier lives. As it is, both suppressed their urges into planning what they believe to be a perfect murder in between Justin's trying to woo Lisa and Richard's ruthless seduction of Lisa (and taping their sex) to make sure that Justin will always be loyal to him. Yo boys, if you can kiss each other, why not just screw each other and make this slash-happy granny's day.

Richard's the manipulative one, and Justin's the methodical and analytical one, and really, these two make the perfect Bonnie and Clyde if only their closet doors open. Michael Pitt plays Justin like a third-rate Leonardo di Caprio, but Ryan Gosling steals the show as a manipulative arrogant jerk who isn't as smart as he believes himself to be.

If you can't tell by now, I find the two homoerotic lads the most memorable aspect of this crime thriller. Sandra Bullock and Ben Chaplin play two chemistry-free cops assigned to investigate the murder, and while Bullock plays a credible tough cop with a past, her role is written so schizophrenically, veering from tough babe to vulnerable waterspout without rhyme or reason, that her Cassie Mayweather is a tough nut to crack and follow. Ben Chaplin just looks constipated. I've seen a few of his movies and he always looked as if he's rather be somewhere else, like maybe pole-dancing with the polar bears or something. Maybe it's time to change jobs?

Ryan Gosling and Sandra Bullock more than succeed in providing the emotional anchors for me to hold on to in this movie, while Michael Pitt plays off Gosling beautifully as the new millennium's Leopold and Loeb. But the script rarely provides them with the depths they deserve, and Murder By Numbers is more interesting in its possibilities (Gosling and Pitt's shag scene will do nicely, for a start) rather than what it actually is.

Rating: 86


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