Film Review: “Dead Again”

“I loved my wife forever…”

1 dead-again-dvd-cover -great poster also roman & margaret

Mystery. Thriller. Reincarnation?

Emma Thompson. Kenneth Branagh. Derek Jacobi. Robin Williams.

A woman, played by Emma Thompson) wakes up screaming. The occurrence of a Nightmare which repeats itself. She has temporarily been taken in by a Catholic Church, part school and once an orphanage.

The detective, Mike Church, (played by Kenneth Branagh) convinced by the Priest watching over the Church School and the Nuns who run it, to take care of the traumatized woman who has amnesia and cannot speak. There are other places he could leave her but through his sense of horror with the system, she ends up at his apartment. And he decides to call her “Grace.”

The only thing she seems able to do at this point to communicate is to scream in her sleep. That is all. So, what is to become of her?

2 Kenneth-Branagh-dead again w scissors
And Grace has a thing for scissors. Later in the film, there is a lacquer box containing an antique pair of scissors. Written in Japanese characters that translate into English as: “These are for you.” The significance of the line is that it recurs as a line of dialogue in the film.

Mike desperately wants to help Grace. He gets the idea to call in a favor from a newspaper friend of his to run ads of her photograph. One result brings to Mike’s door the person of the psychic (played by Derek Jacobi) and people calling in just to try and collect the reward. Madson, the psychic, is rather casual about the whole thing. He eventually offers to do psychic readings for Grace and Mike. No expense. Let the family pay when they claim her.

Mike has another connection with an ex-psychiatrist (Robin Williams), who he draws in for information he hopes will be of help to enable Grace to speak. Robin Williams’ role is of a course character who feels the system fucked him over. Taking away his license. Find out why when you watch the film. But he does care enough to try with Grace.

Dead Again

This is a mysterious tale which takes us through the past, present, and future. It takes us into the past of the classical composer Roman Strauss (played by Kenneth Branagh) and his wife Margaret Strauss. They are deeply in love. Roman presents Margaret with an expensive anklet to express his love and to show how strongly their souls are combined. From these feelings he is supposed to have murdered his wife. But did he?

He is sentenced to death for her murder. The journalist Gray Baker writes the articles of Margaret’s murder and Roman’s trial. Mr. Baker was the man who awakened the jealousy in Roman. The headlines are: “Roman Strauss To Be Executed.” He dies. But before he is lead to the electric chair, he utters the words: “This is all far from over.”

14 dead-again mike & emma in rain when out for meal

The film travels from the present to the past, flipping continuously, tripping over treachery and intrigue, and a love affair that transcends time. The past is cleverly filmed in black and white, while the present is in all the colors. A good way to transcend time.

I have watched this film multiple times with the same thrills received from the first viewing in a theatre. At the time, I had no idea who the actors were playing Roman/Mike and Margaret/Grace. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson are exceptional and the film “Dead Again” is an exceptional film. I have been a fan ever since. Emma knocks me over with her striking ability to play both characters with such difference. The same is true of Kenneth.

There are moments of fun in this films but then there are moments that make one jump. It is difficult not to become physically and verbally engaged all the while the film is unveiling the mystery. It has a strong element of romance but also a grand assumption of deceit. Who can Roman trust? Who killed Margaret Strauss? Was it Roman? What of the extreme jealousy? Who and what does Gray Baker want from Margaret?

16 Dead-Again roman & margaret

The thrills of “Dead Again” throw you right into the final moments and the surprises that are revealed.


“Dead Again” Movie Trailer [1991]

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