Method (2004)

Rating: C-

Dir: Duncan Roy
Star: Elizabeth Hurley, Jeremy Sisto, Carmen Du Sautoy, John Barrowman

Rebecca Fairbanks (Hurley) is an actress trying to make a comeback, playing Belle Guinness, a notorious “Black Widow” killer from the turn of the century. She has the role in a movie about Belle that’s being filmed in Romania, playing opposite her old flame, Jake Fields (Sisto). Jake’s wife is on set and is more than a little suspicious of Rebecca, while film journalist Timothy Stevens (Barrowman), circles, sniffing some good dirt, though Rebecca’s mother (Du Sautoy) tries to run interference for her daughter. Rebecca is determined to nail the part of Belle, getting into character by living on set, and goes off her anti-psychotic medications, believing they are dulling her senses.

But she starts to see the ghost of Belle, which whispers not-so sweet endearments into her ear. As filming progresses, the line between Belle and Rebecca seems to grow increasingly blurred, and there appear to be an increasing number of dead bodies piling up in real life as well. Is Rebecca taking on her character’s murderous tendencies as well? The movie switches frequently between the film being shot, Belle, and its making, but the two never quite mesh as they should. Things could have been more interesting if there had been a wholesale melting of the real and fictional worlds, but they remain largely separate, even at an ending which is likely to provoke more confusion than anything else.

The actors do their best, with Sisto his usual, reliable self, and Hurley making a better stab at an American accent, when playing Belle, than I expected. [Barrowman, incidentally, plays a gay: typecast much?] The script might have been better off deciding whether to tell the story of Rebecca or Belle (who really existed, though looked nothing like Hurley!). It lands uncomfortably between the two, and just when you think you might be getting engrossed in one of the stories, it lurches back into the other, usually with a clunky transition between worlds. Less interesting than it could have been.