“The killer cannot survive.”

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Identity (2003)

Directed by James Mangold Written by Michael Cooney

The film opens up to Dr. Malick (Alfred Molina) reviewing tapes of Malcolm Rivers (Pruitt Taylor Vince); analyzing the seemingly endless amount of drawings, newspaper articles and interviews yet feeling as though a breakthrough was had. Discovering a misfiled diary of which yielded substantial evidence to assure an insanity plea was granted where previously denied. Calling a midnight hearing the night before he was to be executed by lethal injection; a perturbed Judge Taylor (Holmes Osborne) deciding to start without the defendant who they were told was pumped full of drugs and being transported to the courthouse as per a couple of hours prior. Simultaneously introduced to an unspecified time and place of which we are not meant to know is occurring within the prisoners mind. However experiencing due to a new drug induced treatment in which his multiple personalities would be forced to confront one another. Aware that violence would take place but if able to prove that the personality that took over those four years ago to commit the murders was truly gone, would be exonerated.

  • Edward ‘Ed’ Dakota (John Cusack): Our otherwise hero of the group; a former cop and current limo driver to Ms. Suzanne. Causes the accident with the York’s yet quickly takes control of the situation as the only trustworthy one. Plays Detective as selves are terminated and also the closest to Malcolm as he’s able to break through and speak during the midnight hearing. Completely unaware of the fictitious lifestyle he otherwise knew to be.
  • Samuel Rhodes (Ray Liotta): Initially claiming to transport a prisoner however we eventually catch a glimpse at the back of his shirt indicating there was much more to his story. A convict, much like the one traveling with, who plays along with Ed in trying to discover whose behind the murders. Eliminated as a result of an altercation as the selves dwindled down further.
  • Paris Nevada (Amanda Peet): A prostitute on her way to Florida in hopes of turning her life around and obtaining an orchard. Hitching a ride with Ed, then Ginny and Lou as the roads left them flooded. Judged continuously based on her appearance, she’s meant to portray Rivers mother whose road to rediscovery never seemed to include the child she left behind in the process.
  • George York (John C. McGinley): An obviously on-edge individual who likes to follow things “by the book.” Sent into shock when his wife is hit by a car, unable to bounce back and eliminated himself through the fault of an accident. Except, was it?
  • Alice York (Leila Kenzle): Barely gets a word in as she’s struck by a car early on, forcing the family to partner with Ed and the Actress as they make their way to the Motel in hopes of getting a hold of an ambulance.
  • Timmy York (Bret Loehr): The strongest of the personalities as this one was established undoubtedly when abandoned at a similar Motel at the age of 9 (Malcolm of which I’m referring to). While it would seem he is destroyed amid the other murders occurring its in fact his persona that comes out the victor; seeking revenge on his ‘mother’ for the ways in which she neglected him.
  • Larry Washington (John Hawkes): The Motel manager contempt with the lack of business; thrust into a hectic situation with ten new guests arriving one unusually rainy night. Expressing his hatred in Paris immediately, he tries to assist with the murders except is found out for his own unbelievable yet true story of how he ended up running the place.
  • Caroline Suzanne (Rebecca De Mornay): An actress displeased with her latest endeavors refusing to stay at the motel though forced against her will. Upon catching the tiniest signal on her phone feeling the need to relinquish any logic and wonder outside, finding herself as the first victim.
  • Virginia “Ginny” Isiana (Clea DuVall): Distressed and paranoid from the moment we see her, it was the lie of being pregnant held over her marriage that seemed to keep her manic. Admitting that because of a rumor she felt the need to assure Lou stayed with her despite the cost or detail that entailed.
  • Lou Isiana (William Lee Scott): The cute jock type trying to do right by his girlfriend by marrying her after learning of a recent pregnancy. But the truth far more complicated as merely a ruse of which spawns a fight, the last of which would be had on the matter.
  • Robert Maine (Jake Busey): By far the most exciting kill in the film, though really a cameo as one of the filler personalities. Busey never needing a hand with these roles as he was embedded with that crazy gene and always performs accordingly so. Also had a great scene with Hawkes as he taunts him about who had the bigger secret.

While the story may lose some viewers unable to grasp the complex nature that rightfully so is dissociative identity disorder, it should take away nothing from the fact that this is a spectacular film. Script aside, the cast was jammed pack full of talent, even with certain ‘selves’ given limited screen time. Seriously, there was not one performance I was dissatisfied with which makes it that much easier to revisit time and time again. Considering the ‘ah ha’ moment just assures that each time you watch the film you’ll be able to catch different nuances from the other characters not out rightly seen the first time around. Brought together in an alluring matter as James Mangold did a wonderful job of introducing the alters through a series of transition shots depicting how each self was interconnected.

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