Cliff Robertson plays a wealthy New Orleans land developer. As the film opens, he and partner John Lithgow have just closed a lucrative deal. We meet Robert’s wife and nine-year-old daughter who soon fall prey to kidnappers. Robertson double-crosses the kidnappers, leading to a car chase and his family’s death. Fast-forward fifteen years and Roberts, on a business trip to Italy, chances upon a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife.
I’m tempted to spoil the entire film. As much as I enjoyed the location photography and director Brian De Palma’s deft ability to craft memorable visuals, the script proves all setup and no payoff. I sussed out the “reveals” within the first act and spent the rest of the film hoping it would prove me wrong. It did not. Maybe subsequent viewings will allow a greater appreciation of De Palma’s formal effort. And maybe Cliff Robertson’s performance won’t feel so out of place.
But for now, better Vertigo knock-offs exist. One on Top of the Other delivers a more satisfying pay-off, and Scalpel commits to the doppelgänger premise with more gusto. But the shot of Robertson running toward the camera in slow motion with five hundred thousand dollars swirling through the air behind him was magnificent.