Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Someone To Watch Over Me – Sleeper Thriller From the Eighties

Written by Howard Franklin
Directed by Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott Directs the story of Claire Gregory (portrayed by Mimi Rogers). She’s a wealthy woman who travels in New York City social circles and ends up needing police protection after witnessing the murder of Win Hockings (portrayed by Mark Moses), who was a friend of hers, in a mob hit.

Assigned to protect her is Mike Keegan (portrayed by Tom Berenger). He’s happily married to Ellie (portrayed by Lorraine Bracco) and not looking for romance when he moves into Claire’s home. It’s beautiful in terms of decor and the sheer wealth that’s contained within. This contrasts greatly with Mike’s home life.

Claire goes to a party and Mike follows along. When she is threatened in the ladies’ room at the Guggenheim, Mike goes ballistic. The killer escapes his wrath by turning himself in to a beat cop.

Meanwhile, this starts to have an effect on Mike’s home life. Ellie knows he’s essentially on bodyguard duty but is troubled by him accompanying Claire to a party. especially when she learns Claire is purchasing clothing for Mike to blend in.

Once Claire has identified the killer, it would seem it’s over, but that doesn’t happen. He gets released through a loophole, and Mike is back to bodyguard duty. He’s vacillating between two worlds while at the same time trying to keep Clair from getting killed. In addition, there’s a worry that the person Claire heard outside their house isn’t just a neighborhood prowler.

Someone to Watch Over Me blends a nice mixture of suspense and drama along with romance. It’s more than just the story of a Detective protecting a witness. There are so many more dimensions at play, including the differing social and economic statuses of the two involved. Mike’s marriage isn’t shown as being in a crisis. He and Ellie seem quite happy along with their son. They may not have a lot of money, but they seem to be getting along.

The question is what the allure is that turns Mike’s head. Is it the money? Is it just being able to protect someone and have someone depend on him? It’s not quite clear because the argument can be made that Ellie depends on Mike in a way that is different from Claire, while at the same time, Claire is more independent than Ellie in a sense because of her financial situation.

The cast is excellent. They handle the complex puzzle of relationships quite well. This picture was early in Lorraine Bracco’s career in the States (although born and raised in New York, her earliest success was in France). Her performance is passionate but not overbearing as she struggles to maintain her integrity and deal with the other woman in her husband’s life. She is sympathetic while being strong and she shares a good deal of chemistry with co-star Tom Berenger.

Berenger was coming off his success in Platoon when he made Someone to Watch Over Me. It was a good choice as it built on his strong performance in that film. He carried the lead here well. In another actor’s hands, he would be easy to write off as merely a man having a mid-life crisis. However, he says so much about his life just the way he throws out a line or two, such as when he criticizes the way Ellie talks.

Mimi Rogers was good as well, although I had a bit of trouble with her as a socialite. She just seems more of a down-to-earth gal who got there accidentally, rather than someone who has been a part of these circles her entire life. Her comfort with the police officers in her apartment is too easy, as is her comfort with Mike. I can’t imagine Paris Hilton allowing a police officer to stay in her apartment to protect her – she would have her own bodyguards at her disposal who know their place. Rogers does fine with what she’s given, I just think there are some parts of the role that don’t ring true.

In the supporting roles, Jerry Orbach is Lt. Garber, a role that is similar to what he became noted for in Law and Order. Andreas Katsulas makes a terrific menacing villain as the mobster Joey Venza. I actually watched it a second time when I realized who it was, as I didn’t immediately recognize him outside of the makeup from his role on Babylon 5.

The cinematography is beautiful. From Claire’s apartment to the murder scene to New York at night and Mike’s home in Queens, there is a sense that each setting is binging out a certain emotion and feeling towards the events that are taking place. The music is excellent as well, creating a setting that evokes a 1940’s romantic thriller.

There are moments of predictability in Someone to Watch Over Me, and it’s not perfect. Still, this is a film most have not heard of that is definitely worth checking out.

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