Premiering on the Showtime cable network before its home video and foreign theatrical release, this slickly-mounted film noir boasts a clever premise that grows increasingly confused and cynical.
A famous fashion designer is shot to death, and disgruntled police sketch artist Jack Whitfield (Jeff Fahey) must provide a portrait of the murder suspect from details provided by a courier (Drew Barrymore) who subsequently becomes a murder victim herself.
The emerging portrait uncannily resembles Whitfield's own wife Rayanne (Sean Young), an interior decorator whose frequent business-trips strain their marriage. To protect Rayanne, Jack gives authorities an inaccurate drawing and sets out to investigate the case personally. Unfortunately, his bogus
sketch implicates an innocent lookalike, while Jack's other attempts at evidence-tampering alert the suspicions of his bosses.
Having become a fugitive from the law, Jack learns that the dead man's business manager, Paul Korbel (Tcheky Karyo), was skimming heavily from their corporation, to which Rayanne also paid regular visits. Luring the two to a rendezvous, Jack confirms that Rayanne killed the designer, giving her
lover Korbel the perfect alibi. But busy Jack has somehow managed to take photos of Korbel having sex with the victim's own widow. Presented with Korbel's double-cross, Rayanne turns her gun on him instead of Jack, then breaks down.
Sean Young's icy beauty and reserved demeanor makes her a most enticing prime suspect, even if there's something reactionary about the way a professional woman turns out to be a faithless, cold-hearted murderess, quite ready to liquidate her husband because Korbel "does things for me no one else
can." Then again, the hero is no prize either, and an unkempt Fahey plays cuckholded Jack in varying shades of surliness.
Michael Angeli's script detours down too many blind alleys. Angeli returned to work on the less-downbeat followup, SKETCH ARTIST II: HANDS THAT SEE, that put celibate Jack into the more appealing position of caring nurturer.(Violence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse,profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: NR
- Review: Premiering on the Showtime cable network before its home video and foreign theatrical release, this slickly-mounted film noir boasts a clever premise that grows increasingly confused and cynical. A famous fashion designer is shot to death, and disgruntled… (more)