Murder by Numbers, Frailty, and The Cat's Meow.

Reviews of the latest films.
April 19 2002 10:43 AM

By the Numbers

Murder by Numbers does the Nietzschean nihilist killer thing; Frailty likes its ax murderers righteous; The Cat's Meow has no momentum.

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He nurtures a few great performances, though. It's great to see Lumley, after her years of camping on Absolutely Fabulous, be elegantly, exquisitely still. Elwes is convincingly torn between self-interest and an inability to be a total sleazy thug. Herrmann's loss of control at the prospect of losing his mistress is overplayed, but his recovery and subsequent ruthless assurance is the best acting he has ever done. Best of all is Jennifer Tilly, who's often underrated because she sometimes comes off as an exhibitionistic weirdo. Well, she's a first-class comic actress, too, with a natural slapstick presence. As the vulgar and effusive Parsons, she does pratfalls that are psychologically authentic: She trips because she's so incorrigibly forward.

David Edelstein is Slate's film critic. You can read his reviews in "Reel Time" and in "Movies." He can be contacted at slatemovies@slate.com.

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