The first time is generally the best

I had a friend over last night, and we watched the footy before switching to the rugby, had a couple of bottles of red after splitting a six-pack of porter, and ordered in a couple of pizzas. It was a very blokey night.

After he left, I wasn’t ready for bed yet so made myself comfortable on the couch and watched a movie I hadn’t seen for twenty years or so – Under Suspicion, with Liam Neeson.

I remember when I first saw the movie when it came out in the early nineties. I have an idea I saw it at the cinema but can’t remember with who, or why we chose to see this, or if we made a night of it or anything like that. The movie stuck with me, though.

It’s an atmospheric thriller set in a rainy Brighton, in England, in 1959/60. Neeson is an ex-cop with a past who now plies his trade on the shady edges as a private detective. It’s an unsavoury life, and though he’s an affable character, he’s pretty disreputable. In the course of one of his ‘matrimonial’ cases, his wife and a client – an artist – are found brutally murdered in a hotel room. From there, it’s a mystery unravelling who did what – the artist’s ex-wife, his mistress, or Aaron himself (Neeson). In the end, it’s a race against time movie.

I won’t spoil it for you, but at the time I thought it was pretty ingenious. I enjoyed it, and it stuck in my mind.

The thing is, this is one of those movies that once you know the secret of it – the big reveal – you can’t forget it. It’s all new and mysterious watching it the first time around, but once the trap has been sprung, you can’t help but watch it in a different way. You watch it a second time, and it’s curious because you’re putting the pieces together with your perspective shifted. Ah, you think, that makes sense. But after that…

So I watched it in my warm lounge room while it rained outside and it was cosy, and the movie was diverting, but all the surprise was gone from it, and so was much of the wonder. It was a fine enough way to spend ninety minutes, and the perfect movie to watch late – not too taxing – but, like so many things, very different from the first time.

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