Neil, a self proclaimed film geek and owner of Gumshoe video, has always been content to live vicariously through his favorite films noir. But when he meets Violet, a real-life femme fatale, his mundane world gets turned upside down and the line between reality and the movies quickly begins to blur. The antics they get in to are fairly original and there even were several laugh-out-loud moments, for instance when Lucy Liu starts talking about her weirdo ex-boyfriends me and my friends were in stitches. Lucy Liu fits the role of the play-in-the-field perfectly (her role reminded me of her character in Lucky Number Slevin) and Cillian Murphy really proved to be a surprise in a comedy role.
Think of Watching The Detectives as a well made Indie film and you’ll be pleased. It’s already dated as the idea of a small, local video store catering to folks who like all kinds of movies is an idea whose time has unfortunately passed, but that’s also part of its charm. The films message, which is to get out and enjoy life, might rub some film aficionados the wrong way for criticizing the wholeness of their lives, so their umbrage is understood, though unfortunate. It also has two of the best rock and roll moments I’ve ever seen in films; one, a great indie band in a club running thru the heart riff of a unique song and two, a highly produced backyard karaoke performance that perfectly resolves the needs of the film’s moment. The ending is kind of forced but to come up with a real resolution of this story would take a writer of true genius.
Lucy Liu gets to wear all these cute outfits, many are low cut but not unduly provocative. The wardrobe department should get some props here. She looks great. She gets to act all femme fatale (though this film is inappropriately labeled ‘noir’) as she pulls prank after prank in an effort to deal with her “rare, exotic disease.” We get the quirky Liu here, not the tough one. She looks like a college student most of the time, except for the close-ups. Hard to believe she was 40 years old when this film was released! Despite the premise, this movie’s more of a twisted rom-com, in which Liu somewhat sadistically teases Murphy on by constantly lying to him about everything, and Murphy masochistically keeps going along like a puppy who’s been whipped and likes it.
Most of all, though, I was surprised by Lucy Liu, who I had never thought of as more than someone who’d stumbled into the business having unexpectedly found, or founded, a niche in the gorgeous-Chinese-face-with-an-attitude department up until now. I wish someone would give Lucy Liu a movie in which she’s not portrayed as an Asian tigress, no matter how she does look like one. So, again, the movie’s a riot, feels fresh, and was very competently acted. The only sad thing is that there’s some kind of message, yeah, but the irony is you’re sitting on your couch, watching it being fed to you, and all along you know it’s not going to change your life. But you did get to spend 90 minutes of it laughing. What can I say, I was happy, motivated and hopeful after seeing this movie.