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.