Parents' Guide to

An Imperfect Murder

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Self-indulgent thriller is boring; violence, drinking.

Movie R 2020 72 minutes
An Imperfect Murder Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 16+

An Imperfect Flick

The painting that appears in the opening montage and later on the wall of the apartment is by Hieronymous Bosch, titled The Garden of Earthy Delights, with the middle panel depicting a wide range of human behavior from lust to depravity. The film, by and large, is tedious and, IMO, does not make any real connection to the Bosch painting at all. James Toback's "probing" inquisition of Vera ---which seems to want to explore the subject of her sex life--- reveals nothing about Vera and everything about James----Intrusive and unwelcome as he seems to be----sitting there nattering on about himself. The "tell" is his comment that she validates him (I am paraphrasing.) The best things about this film: 1. the loft and furnishings; 2. the acting of Sienna Miller, Charles Grodin and Alec Baldwin. These actors stand in high relief against the dull insipid "performances" of Toback and Icahn. I recommend watching this if you want to study the great acting skills of the three aforementioned actors otherwise skip this self-indulgent clap-trap that dares to equate itself with a masterpiece by Bosch.
age 18+

The imperfect murder

This was a very boring movie. A lot of disconnected talk. I shouldn't have bothered to watch it. It seemed to have no purpose or meaning.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (4 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

A boring, self-important waste of time, this non-thrilling thriller was completed at the precipice of hundreds of #MeToo allegations being lodged against writer-director James Toback. But An Imperfect Murder unintentionally provides one related service: It offers a living example of what a predator looks and acts like. The film's concept feels like an inside joke for the Hollywood Good Ol' Boys club: A famous, beautiful actress believes she can get away with a murder because her acting skills are so second-nature that she can convince anyone of her innocence. This speaks volumes about the apparent disdain Toback feels for the female talent that vexes him -- which is accentuated by the fact that he actually writes himself into the piece as a "friend" who shows up, uninvited and without context, to Vera's house, saying he's worried about her. He then probes Vera with prying questions, including whether she's living a secret sexual life without telling him (again, his character appears to be a friend, not someone to whom she would owe any information about her romantic life). This longwinded psychoanalysis offers little information to help us understand Vera, but perhaps some to understand Toback -- especially when it becomes apparent that his visit was never about her but about him and what he hoped to get from her.

The massive quantities of information shared with real-life reporters about Toback's abusive behavior makes small nuances of the film even more unsettling and telling. For instance, the fact that he films Miller sleeping braless in a see-through white T-shirt: Exactly how does her nipples being in the center of the frame help viewers understand she's having a nightmare? And the film opens and closes by slowly panning over an unsettling painting of nude people that has sexual insinuations, all over an orchestral symphony, perhaps to help pretend that the art -- and this film -- has some artistic relevance? The stars all perform to expectation, with Charles Grodin in particular evoking pathos, authenticity, and understanding in his role as Vera's grandfather, who's frustrated by the dementia that's like a demon raiding his brain. His one unforgettable scene feels shoehorned into the film. It otherwise doesn't really fit, except to lay the groundwork for another bizarre moment in which billionaire Carl Icahn, playing himself, shows up at Vera's door and tells a story, doing nothing to move the plot forward. All of which is to say that An Imperfect Murder doesn't just fail as a Time's Up casualty: It fails on its own merit as a terrible, self-indulgent film.

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