Best approached as a showcase for the underappreciated actress Mimi Rogers, the ambitious REFLECTIONS IN THE DARK is a psychological thriller, and the most blistering attack on marriage this side of Ingmar Bergman.
On death row, Regina (Mimi Rogers), convicted of murdering her husband, blithely awaits her execution with wisecracks that mask an inner rage. Aside from unwanted drop-ins by a priest and a physician, her only solace during her final vigil is prison guard Colin (Billy Zane), who pumps Regina for
details about her case. Although in no mood to clear up the mystery, she does begin to feed bits and pieces of her life story to Colin, whom she also attempts to seduce. As flashbacks reflect different versions of how she killed her apparently decent husband James (John Terry) on their seventh
wedding anniversary, the truth about her motivation assumes greater complexity.
Regina and James were happy enough initially, but the years brought emotional deprivation to them both. Overly-possessive James also wants to wipe out Regina's memories of her first and purest love, Daniel (Alain Ohanian). On their anniversary, James gives Regina a gag pistol-cigarette lighter
with a note allegedly from the long dead Daniel--a thoughtless gesture that encapsulates why Regina might want to kill him. Before she walks that last mile, however, a final flashback reveals that, although she was seething with anger, Regina killed James accidentally. A shard of glass from a
broken mirror was lodged in the brush with which she hit James. Liberated from her entrapping marriage, Regina assumes responsibility for the slaying and faces her punishment with no regrets.
Casual viewers may not be able to tune in and out of the equivocal metaphysical mind games played by REFLECTIONS IN THE DARK. As a courtroom-jailhouse mystery, the film is too artful and contrived. But as a bleak musing on the dynamics of marriage, it is an eye-opening chiller, presenting the
union as a shared crime of the heart marked by incessant subtle powerplays. By the end of a long dissection of this unholy union, the viewer can see why Regina wanted James dead: just to be rid of him, through an immediate, cleansing erasure of his being.
Having bitten off a concept that might give Antonioni pause, talented writer-director Jon Purdy runs aground in failing to make the jail guard an adequate counterweight to the protagonist. Drably played by Zane, he is merely a one-dimensional sounding board. Although this imbalance places an
immense burden on Rogers, she displays a courageous, unrestricted abandon that illuminates her performance. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, adult situations, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Best approached as a showcase for the underappreciated actress Mimi Rogers, the ambitious REFLECTIONS IN THE DARK is a psychological thriller, and the most blistering attack on marriage this side of Ingmar Bergman. On death row, Regina (Mimi Rogers), conv… (more)