Dead Again (1991)

Dead Again (1991), directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Who doesn't love a romantic reincarnation murder mystery? Better yet: some of the characters from 1948 are still alive and know both ends of the story. And: big plot twist!

This is meant to be fun, a "heightened" film mythology with the familiar LA characters and settings then and now. Some tone mixing is a problem: drenching the plot in a lush multi-time love story confuses me: love -- unless it is romantic comedy -- is meant to be taken seriously, isn't it?

Other issues:

Still, it is fun, although at moments I am puzzled as to what I am supposed to be puzzling out. It occurred to me that this, in a small way, is like Vertigo (1958): because of a plot reveal it is a different film on second viewing.

And maybe after a third: it opens with curious events on death row. After the murder might two souls be melded in one body? This could easily cause problems in the next life.

Rich supporting cast:

Some of the minor characters appear in both 1948 and present day but I did not notice them and I doubt if anyone else did. Originally 1948 was in color but preview audiences were confused. Contrasting then and now is important and b&w for the 1940s suits the mythology well.

The theme of doomed lovers reuniting in cycles of reincarnation occurs in HR Haggard's She and was stolen for the first The Mummy (1932) screenplay and has since become part of that mythology.

Score by Patrick Doyle, who also has a cameo as one of the policemen in the hospital elevator.

Photographed by Matthew F. Leonetti -- Raise the Titanic (1980), Extreme Prejudice (1987), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998). The framing and texture sometimes look off to me, as if the film were zoomed during editing.

Available on DVD. Import Blu-rays are available, including a late 2020 edition from Imprint in Australia, but I haven't seen any of them.

The DVD has two commentary tracks: