Friday June 30, 1995
With Jon Purdy's thoughtful, well-crafted "Reflections in the Dark," Mimi Rogers follows "The Rapture" and "Bulletproof Heart" with yet another striking, distinctive screen portrayal. After a brief but crucial prologue, we encounter her elegant, highly intelligent Regina, arriving in a prison holding cell for her final night before facing the electric chair, having been convicted of murdering her husband, Terry (John Terry).
As Regina begins a conversation with her guard, Colin (Billy Zane), who proves to be an exceptional man in surprising ways, flashbacks fill us in on how she ended up on Death Row.
In his feature debut, Purdy, who owned and operated the much-missed Hollywood Screening Room, is nothing if not ambitious. For the contemplative, demanding "Reflections in the Dark" is almost entirely verbal, composed mainly of exchanges between Regina and Colin and between Regina and Terry. This film is lots closer to Carl Dreyer's "Gertrud" as a portrait of a woman dissatisfied with love than to standard spousal murder-case dramas.
Traumatized by the loss of her first lover in a drowning accident, which is compounded by a subsequent hysterectomy, Regina comes to realize that despite their mutual love, Terry is not right for her, even though he is a man seemingly with everything--looks, ardor, polish and wit. Terry is not really the problem--indeed, most women would be thrilled to have him as a husband--but rather that Regina is too honest to deny the emptiness of her life yet lacks the will--or, possibly, the imagination--to try to fill it.
Regina indeed is a frightful specter of the individual whose intelligence and honesty ironically become forces of destruction because of a lack of sense of purpose in life. In short, Purdy is revealing how a person can credibly pursue a drastic course of action in the absence of conventional motivation.
What's so good about Rogers' splendid performance is that she--and Purdy--never ask sympathy for Regina, persuading us to recognize her humanity rather than to like her. Rogers receives, in turn, strong, appropriately understated support from both Zane and Terry. "Reflections in the Dark" is a handsome chamber drama, enhanced by Teresa Medina's sleek camera work and Parmer Fuller's somber, formal score.
Reflections in the Dark, 1995. R, for strong sexuality, language and some violence. A Concorde-New Horizons presentation. Writer-director Jon Purdy. Producers Gwen Field, Barbara Klein, Alida Camp. Executive producers Roger Corman, Mike Elliott, Lance H. Robbins. Cinematographer Teresa Medina. Editor Norman Buckley. Costumes Deana Appel. Music Parmer Fuller. Production designer Arlan Jay Vetter. Art director Roger Belk. Set dresser Karin Bage. Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes. Mimi Rogers as Regina. Billy Zane as Colin. John Terry as Terry.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times