- Richard Gere as Isaac Barr
- Kim Basinger as Heather Evans
- Uma Thurman as Diana Baylor
- Eric Roberts as Jimmy Evans
- Paul Guilfoyle as Mike O’Brien
A twisting neo-noir that alludes to the works of Hitchcock, Final Analysis is a good enough thriller that although derivative and more than a little flawed manages to keep the attention with glossy style and cast.
Isaac Barr is a dedicated psychiatrist in San Francisco who is treating a strange patient by the name of Diana Baylor. The unusual young woman is plagued by traumatic dreams that seem to stem from her childhood, but every time Isaac gets close to getting to the bottom of it, Diana somehow switches off and refuses to talk. Wanting to get to the root of Diana’s case, Isaac contacts her older sister Heather in the hopes of possibly discovering something. What Isaac gets is something he least expected. The gorgeous Heather captures his attention immediately and he feels for her because she is locked in a loveless marriage with Jimmy Evans, a hotheaded gangster who controls her every moved and exercises complete domination over her. Soon enough, Isaac and Heather have entered into a steamy affair after the stunning Heather secures him, despite the implications of him going against medical ethics. Yet while their affair is dangerous, there is also the matter of a strange condition that Heather suffers from. If she consumes even a tiny bit of alcohol, she flies into a violent and uncontrollable rage after which she can’t recall any of her actions. Events for the unsuspecting Isaac get more complicated when the vicious Jimmy is killed by Heather during what appears to be one of her violent episodes. Put on trial for murder, Isaac acts as a help to her because of his desire for her and tries to aid her in getting off through his friendship with her defence attorney Mike O’Brien. Yet as the case begins to open, several things begin to test Isaac’s faith in Heather as he starts to suspect she may not be the vulnerable and abused woman she appears to be. Mystery and deception meet as Isaac digs into the twisting case that is not what it seems on the surface.
As aforementioned, Final Analysis owes a lot to the movies of the masterful Alfred Hitchcock. And while it can be neat counting the references to his work, especially Vertigo, it can grow a bit bothersome as it is a film that is never going to be put in the same category as his work. Regardless of that, director Phil Joanou keeps things very stylish and moving along nicely, and it’s not hard to see that he knows how to frame an enticing shot for this neo noir. Good examples of these skills are the opening credits that provide vignettes of what is to come being illuminated by a searching fog light, a tight close up of the haunted Diana recounting her dream and later a stormy climax at a rickety lighthouse. Derivative as Final Analysis may be, it still is sure as hell an entertaining mystery. The writing is good for the most part, yet while it builds a sense of unease in the beginning, it starts to squander it in the middle by revealing a bit too much information and throwing in some very incomprehensible twists. Thankfully, the tense climax makes up for the floundering middle half with panache and thrills. A string heavy score delightfully recalls the work of Hitchcock regular Bernard Herrmann with its romantic undertones and sense of passionate danger.
Richard Gere is very good as the unsuspecting Isaac, whose confidence in his beliefs and love for Heather are sorely tested as the case opens up. Gere successfully makes Isaac a character who finds himself caught in a web and tries to navigate his way out, only to uncover more deception. The beautiful and talented Kim Basinger sizzles as the mysterious Heather, who is by turns sad, beguiling and extremely seductive. Basinger brings energy to the part as we like Isaac, begin to witness how the afraid surface she projects may in fact hide something a lot more deadly. A young Uma Thurman projects a haunted and almost ghostly quality to the role of the traumatised Diana, who may know more than she is letting on as the web of deceit intensifies. Eric Roberts may only be on screen for a short amount of time, but when he’s there he exudes an animalistic intensity and thuggish demeanor as Heather’s ultimately ill-fated husband. Paul Guilfoyle is very amusing as Isaac’s best friend and lawyer who showcases humour during the trial.
Flawed but still very entertaining, Final Analysis has enough visual flourishes and contributions from a game cast to make it watchable. It may not be going down as the best thriller out there, but it is still well done and effectively directed by Phil Joanou.