Past Tense

  • 1994
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Mystery

Relying on the spotty memory of a cop who can't remember the crime that put him in the hospital, PAST TENSE doesn't have a strong enough gimmick--never mind characters, performances, or plot--to sustain itself. Police detective Gene Ralston (Scott Glenn) is having a tough time. He seduces his next door neighbor, Tory (Lara Flynn Boyle), then finds her...read more

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Relying on the spotty memory of a cop who can't remember the crime that put him in the hospital, PAST TENSE doesn't have a strong enough gimmick--never mind characters, performances, or plot--to sustain itself.

Police detective Gene Ralston (Scott Glenn) is having a tough time. He seduces his next door neighbor, Tory (Lara Flynn Boyle), then finds her stabbed to death. But later, his gambling-buff partner, Larry (Anthony LaPaglia), says the murder never happened. If that's not enough, Gene wakes up

with nightmares of his own death. After a fight with Larry, Gene follows him into a hospital and discovers ... himself, lying in a hospital bed. It turns out that Gene has been in a coma, dreaming, for over a year. Through a series of flashbacks, he gradually remembers how he got there. He recalls

investigating a murder that looked like a professional hit and discovering, thanks to a tip from his next door neighbor, that Larry was the murderer. The floodgates open. Gene recalls the night he and Tory were attacked by Larry--who admitted he had carried out the hit to pay off gambling

debts--and the fight that led to Gene's coma. In the finale, Larry and Frank (David Ogden Stiers), the man who hired him, come to the hospital. Larry ends up shooting Frank to protect his old partner, and getting killed himself.

This made-for-cable noir, released to home video is 1994, was executive produced by a major Hollywood player--Arnold Kopelson, who produced the Oscar-winning PLATOON--but it's a completely negligible effort; director Graeme Clifford shows no sign that he once directed high-profile theatrical

pictures (FRANCES, 1982; GLEAMING THE CUBE, 1989). Despite the attempt to create a mysterious, surreal plot, the film is bland, opaque, and silly. Once the structural hook--Gene's coma--reveals itself, the intrigue that goes on earlier in the film emerges as a tissue of blurry but obvious clues

for solving an uncompelling mystery. It's annoying to listen to other people's dreams; watching a film based on them isn't much better. (Violence, profanity, nudity.)

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  • Released: 1994
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Relying on the spotty memory of a cop who can't remember the crime that put him in the hospital, PAST TENSE doesn't have a strong enough gimmick--never mind characters, performances, or plot--to sustain itself. Police detective Gene Ralston (Scott Glen… (more)

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