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China Moon Review

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Detective Kyle Bodine falls for Rachel Munro who is trapped in a violent marriage. After shooting her husband, Kyle reluctantly agrees to help hide the body, but Kyle's partner is showing an unusual flair for finding clues.

★★★★

Buried under the rubble of collapsing studio Orion, alongside such high calibre fare as Blue Sky and Love Field, this effective sultry thriller, simmering away in the hotbed of the Deep South, has finally crawled into the light of rental opportunity. From the outset it is clearly a revisit to that most whiskered of storylines: the lovers-murder-wealthy husband scenario. As in A Postman Always Knocks Twice and Body Heat. If China Moon never quite musters the body heat of such glam predessors, up its sweaty sleeves are twists to give Miss Marple knots in her knitting.
The first twirl on the clichés is that the lover and obligatory cop are one and the same. Ed Harris, salty and mean looking, is the fastidious detective going weak at the kneecaps for the auburn charms of Madeleine Stowe. True to form she has an abusive, but unbelievably dosh laden, husband — Dance equipped with a grating consonant torturing drawl. Next up is some breathless midnight skinny-dipping in a silvery, moonlit lake, and lots of devotional repartee from the gasping couple. Then one slap too many from snidley Dance and he’s dropping his mortal coil all over the bed room floor. It’s the doe-eyed Stowe left holding a smoking revolver.
From here events twist and turn like a cornered cat. Seeming impossibilities souring the perfect crime; betrayal, yet more murder, and oceans of rain cutting through the pungent atmosphere, concentrating the mood, and readying the ground for the most stunningly un-Hollywood of endings in donkeys. None of it conforming to the glum guessablity of the by-rote erotic thrillers that fill the top shelves of the nation’s video emporia.
China Moon, although short on ambition, has managed to rejig a latent formula. Bailey plays it cool, letting tension build, letting you get to know and care about the characters before they crack. Likewise, the acting is pure class. Stowe wraps her pallid skin, enormous eyes and succulent pout up like a deadly invitation. While her leading man, cool and stolid one moment, flaky and confused the next, is, as ever, excellent. Harris, an unsung hero of the acting battalions, is fast becoming the Gene Hackman of his generation. And China Moon, as shunned by hype and hearsay as it is, is as good an evening’s rental as you could betray a spouse for

Good, underrated, stuff.