A Slight Case of Murder is funny, inventive, serious, and light all at the same time. William H. Macy beautifully controls the screen as both the hero and the villain of the film and embodies the phrase caught “between a rock and a hard place.” At the beginning of the movie, Macy’s character Terry Thorpe is thrust into the fact that his lover, during a fight, has just fallen, hit her head, and died. Macy flees and spends the rest of the time trying not to be found out. Between his real girlfriend, a blackmailing private investigator, a police detective, and the detective’s tempting wife, Macy has a lot of lying to do.
What makes Slight Case wonderful and only adds to the greatness of the film is that Macy is a known film critic of murder mysteries. If there is anything he knows, it’s how to cover up the truth, how the cops could find him out, and the best ways to lie about everything he does. Best of all, Macy’s character has a Malcolm In the Middle type style of breaking the fourth wall and speaking candidly with the audience. This is brilliance. While the audience is rooting for Macy to weasel his way out of his situation, he inevitably continues to dig himself deeper into it and becomes more and more guilty as time goes by.
Equally excellent in Slight Case is the performance of all the other actors in the film. Everyone contributes to the story wonderfully and all of the supporting characters were written so well and played off with such chemistry that each scene is seamless. What’s even more surprising is that this was a made-for-TV movie. The execution of the direction, editing, acting, you name it are carried out with such strength it would beat the pants off of any of those horrible Lifetime movies. You know the one; where the woman’s baby is stolen and ten years later, after she finally has the courage, leaves an abusive husband, kills the child’s kidnapper, and then retrieves her kid from an old shack not five miles from her home. Yeah, Slight Case is way better!
William H. Macy not only acts in the film, but also is one of the writers for the script. There is such dignity and class shown through the language and visuals that even though you’re sympathetically watching this slime ball, you are being entertained through suspense, comedy, and action. While I already had an appreciation for Macy, A Slight Case of Murder raises the bar because he doesn’t “star” in movies, he acts out a character to the truest and best of his ability to tell their story, not build his resume. With lines like, “if you're going to commit a murder -- and I don't recommend it -- one thing you should definitely not do is sleep with the investigating officer's wife. It just makes for a lot of unnecessary complications,” you know it’s going to be a great flick.
Since there are no extras for A Slight Case of Murder there isn’t much to discuss here. This was a made-for-TV movie, so I can’t exactly blame them for not recording any additional work and it’s only recently that I’ve noticed these types of movies coming out on DVD at all. Sure a commentary by Macy and Schachter would have been a plus, but this picture doesn’t need the explanation some other films do in order to be truly enjoyed.
One comment I will make on the disc itself is that the image used for the face of the disc is perfectly fitting. It’s simply a picture of Macy, or Terry Thorpe, sitting in an empty theater offering forward some popcorn and a seat next to him. This photo alone already shows the character Macy plays. A nice touch to a film that already holds it’s own. With Slight Case, no extras are required, the movie more than speaks for itself.