Watching the Detectives Paul Soter

Watching the Detectives Paul Soter
As far as deliberately quirky romantic comedies go, a viewer could do much worse than the often bizarre and slightly uneven Watching the Detectives. It’s a film that jabs at a spectator-based culture that encourages denizens to passively observe excitement via entertainment mediums while remaining within their nine-to-five taxpaying cages. The subtext isn’t subtle, given that the film careens through a variety of cinematic genre conventions as Lucy Liu’s character plays elaborate tricks on Cillian Murphy in an effort to spice up his otherwise boring life. She even states at one point, as Murphy watches a televised basketball game, "I just don’t get it, if you enjoy basketball, why don’t we just go play basketball?” Neil’s (Cillian Murphy) life revolves around his independent video store, Gumshoe Video, where he and his best friends (Jason Sudeikis and Michael Panes) waste their days discussing all things film-related. One day, the attractive and mysterious Violet (Lucy Liu) wanders into the store to rent herself a movie. It isn’t long before the two are out on a date where Violet pretends to be intoxicated in order to find out if Neil is the kind of guy who would take advantage of her. This is just the first in a series of elaborate mind games she plays on him, seemingly in an effort to keep the burgeoning relationship energized while exploiting Neil’s gullible nature. These games, for the most part, are entertaining to watch, as they each play out a different genre of film (noir, war and western, to name a few), while offering possible insights on the peculiar nature of Liu’s character, but they grow weary as the film plods forward, given that the characters aren’t particularly elaborate and their chemistry is minimal. It’s enjoyable to see Lucy Liu play someone whimsical and Cillian Murphy play someone without a great deal of baggage, despite minimal complexity or cinematic appeal. Watching the Detectives is a pleasant diversion but nothing more. The DVD includes only a trailer, a photo gallery and the usual parade of Peach Arch trailers. (Peace Arch)