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Murder By Numbers

Director:Barbet Schroeder
Writer:Tony Gayton
Warner Bros. and Caste Rock; R; 118 minutes
Release:4/02
Cast:Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling, Ben Chaplin

Murder By Numbers runs in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's technically astute Rope: both films are constructed around a thrill killing by two men—inspired by the writings of Nietzsche—who flaunt their perfect crime. Sandra Bullock stars as an intuitive detective investigating a seemingly simple murder with partner Sam (Ben Chaplin). All signs point to an innocent man but the detective's hunch suggests otherwise.

In actuality, a pair of high school boys (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt) are responsible, and we witness the act from various viewpoints throughout the film. Boredom, dementia, and displaced bravado led them to kill a complete stranger. While the plot doesn't diverge from a by-the-numbers thriller template, strong acting and characterization give Murder By Numbers an advantage over common whodunits.