DEAD AGAIN. Paramount Pictures, 1991. Kenneth Branagh, Andy Garcia, Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson (and Robin Williams). Director: Kenneth Branagh.

   A California home for orphans and indigent children asks a breezy young PI named Mike Church to investigate a strange intruder-visitor there, an equally young woman who is unable to speak, with no memory of who she is, but who has the most violent nightmares after she barricades herself inside her room at night.

   With the aid of a friendly hypnotist, together they discover that one of her past lives has apparently converged upon her present one, with an old murder case that made headlines in 1949 at the core of the matter. There are a couple of other twists to come, neither one of which were expected (by me) at all.

   This is an utterly marvelous motion picture, a true Gothic neo-noir, but one that I’m sure I would have missed altogether if it weren’t for the private eye trapping. Karma-freak or not, don’t make the same mistake. And while this is Branagh’s movie all the way through, it’s also the first time I have seen Emma Thompson in action. What a revelation as an actor she is. It won’t be the last time I’ll see her in a movie, I can assure you of that.

PostScript:   Absolutely incidentally, and for no extra fee, this motion picture also contains the greatest advertisement for non-smoking that you can ever imagine.

— Reprinted from Nothing Accompliced #4, November 1993, slightly revised.