Movie Review: A Kind of Murder (2016)

Synopsis: Walter Stackhouse, an architect in 1960s New York, is unhappily married to the beautiful but mentally ill Clara. He becomes obsessed with an unsolved murder at a bus stop he believes was carried out by the victim's husband, Marty Kimmel, and, when Clara takes a bus to see her mother, follows her much in the same way he theorizes Kimmel would have done. However, when he arrives at the bus station, Clara is nowhere to be found and, when detectives later find her body, Walter becomes a murder suspect.

Who's in it? The movie stars Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Haley Bennett, Eddie Marsan and Vincent Kartheiser.

Review: I've had this movie in my library for several weeks but avoided watching it mostly because I figured my wife wouldn't enjoy it as much as I would. I finally had an opportunity to watch it last night, after she went to bed early with the flu. The movie wasn't quite as good as I hoped it would be, but I did find I enjoyed it for the most part.

One thing I found I loved about this film was the mystery surrounding Clara's (Biel) death. Walter (Wilson) seemed like a perfect suspect. He was having an affair with singer Ellie Briess (Bennett), something Clara knew about. Her mental health issues were putting a strain on the marriage and, most importantly, he was at the bus stop when she died. 

At the same time, since Clara was suicidal, there was no way to determine whether her fall from that bridge was the result of someone else and he could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. After all, if he really did want her dead, why didn't he just let her die when she took a bunch of pills?

I also found it interesting how he seemed to go out of his way to make things worse by telling lies that would be easy to discredit. At times, it felt like he almost wanted the police to investigate him, and I don't know if that was really the case or if he was just that dumb.

Adding some additional intrigue to this was Kimmel (Marsan). If Clara was killed and it wasn't her husband, then there likely would be a connection to Kimmel's wife's murder as well. Was he actually innocent? Did he kill Clara too in an effort to confuse police? At minimum, his connection to Stackhouse, albeit through no fault of his own, opened up a whole new investigation, something I'm sure he wanted to avoid.

The movie did seem to drag on in parts, especially toward the beginning, which confirmed my suspicions this would have been a film my wife would not have liked (she tends to get bored with slower-paced movies). In fact, I think the movie could have cut out about 15-20 minutes in the beginning and it would have had no real impact on the overall film.

I also find myself undecided about the ending. I had to re-watch it a couple times to make sure I didn't miss something and at least think I understand what the movie was trying to do. However, I feel like it either needed to be executed better or the filmmakers should have just answered the question about what really happened at the bus stop rather than leaving it open-ended.

Final Opinion: This is a halfway decent movie with an intriguing plot. However, if you like murder mysteries that give you a clear-cut answer about who did it and how, you will likely be disappointed by the ending.

My Grade: B-


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