This mindless thriller operates on the level of a daytime talk show about multiple personalities. Since any suspense is tangential and there's a distinct lack of chemistry between stars Linda Hamilton and James Belushi, SEPARATE LIVES barely sputters to life.
When Jane Weiss (Pat Delany) tries to reopen a decades-old homicide investigation, she is gunned down on the beach at Malibu. As a young girl, celebrated psychotherapist Lauren Porter (Hamilton) was traumatized when her mother blew away her stepfather with a shotgun and then killed herself. Lauren
now teaches criminal behavior at a local college, where she opens up to one of her students, former cop Tom Beckwith (Belushi). She believes that she may be suffering from multiple personality disorder and persuades Beckwith to keep her under surveillance.
Lauren soon slips into the danger-craving half of her split personality: Lena, a dance-club swinger whose stormy liaison with Keno Sykes (Mark Lindsay Chapman) results in the savage beating of Beckwith. Delving into the past while dealing with a tricky relationship with his own daughter, Ronnie
(Elisabeth Moss), Beckwith is shocked when a ballistics report suggests that Lauren killed Jane Weiss. The weapon, however, soon disappears. When Lauren's ex-husband agrees to babysit for her, he winds up the latest murder victim.
Beckwith accosts Lauren as she fades in and out of her aggressive demeanor. Beckwith drives her--against her will--to the family manse where the original crimes took place, and forces the traumatized woman to confront a scarred past. Lauren's father, Robert Porter (Drew Snyder), appears on the
scene and admits to having killed Lauren's mother and stepdad. He attempts to kill Lauren/Lena, but Beckwith sends him flying out of the window to his death. Lauren is apparently cured.
In classic film noirs, a femme fatale killed because of some character flaw, but Lauren Porter--like the heroines of many noir updates--just can't help herself: she's damaged goods. In either event, mental illness is exploited to flesh out sketchy characterizations in this underwritten murder
mystery. Since Robert's guilt is readily apparent from his first appearance, any attempt to lay the blame at the doorstep of Lauren--in either of her personas--simply prolongs the inevitable. At best, the film is a cynival revamp of superior murder yarns, many with stars more charismatic than
beefy bulldozer Belushi and one-expression-fits-every-mood Hamilton. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, extreme profanity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: This mindless thriller operates on the level of a daytime talk show about multiple personalities. Since any suspense is tangential and there's a distinct lack of chemistry between stars Linda Hamilton and James Belushi, SEPARATE LIVES barely sputters to li… (more)