Kenneth Branagh’s thriller survives the years as cool nonsense

Although he had started very strong with ‘Enrique V’, winner of an Oscar and nominated for best director, Kenneth Branagh decided to take the pressure off himself in his second feature film and grab a script from the always interesting Scott Frank. The result, ‘To die yet’, was a thriller of the highest level which, perhaps, was ahead of its time.

Murders of the future past

Mike Church is a detective from Los Angeles. And it’s just how that type of character should be: throwing a cynic. Settled in that timeless early 90s moment, this missing persons specialist is contacted to find a woman’s identity with amnesia. Far away from there, in 1949, the composer Roman Strauss is executed for the brutal murder of his wife Margaret with scissors. Together they will delve into a very distant open wound. As much as those flashazos come in elegant black and white.

‘Dying Yet’ may be Branagh’s best work, surely for trying to increase more than ever the doses of spreading and fun.
It could also have been a Brian De Palma movie. If so, it would contain some more virguerity, but there is nothing to reproach al hitchockismo endearing of a director who is generally much more determined to lay the chair giving the ember.

Die still medium

And the years have made this jewel of uncomplexed mystery great.
It is so crazy that it is impossible that it will not catch you again at each of its crazy turning points. ‘Dead Again’ is a detective film tinged with fantasy and romance on the subject of reincarnation, perhaps the most complicated case possible for a private detective. Its original form (two parallel stories take place, one in the late 1940s, treated in black and white, and the other today, in color) and Scott Frank’s script (with his first script, long before ‘ Out of Sight ‘,’ Minority Report ‘,’ Logan ‘or’ Lady’s Gambit ‘), make it an exciting film that, I suspect, can still find a new audience, both newcomer and clueless then.


Paramount gave the ok to production in the early 90s with Sydney Pollack as executive producer and a clear idea: that the main cast would be made up of strangers for the general public. And nobody is more unknown than the trio Kenneth Branagh / Emma Thompson / Derek Jacobi, full of chemistry after their previous work together: ‘Enrique V’. To add some juicier names to supporting roles, Andy Garcia, Robin Williams and Hanna Schygulla seemed like unbeatable bets.

Filmed entirely in Los Angeles, the movie was a commission that was to consolidate Branagh’s reputation in the United States while passing through demonstrated his fluency in other genres. To enter a story that develops two plots in parallel in two different times, it was necessary to break the viewer’s disbelief. More than breaking it, blowing it into a thousand pieces.

To die

Through the elegant classicism of its more fanciful side, ‘To die still’ is a smart and brilliantly constructed entertainment that keeps the attention and interest of the viewer with his effective treatment of that suspension. Not surprisingly, Kenneth Branagh’s film is, above all, fantastic cinema. A hysterical paranormal thriller that endures restrained for much of the story, until at a certain point, things get out of hand as unexpectedly as his last twists and turns.

1991 was a spectacular year full of anthology films that over the years have proven to be the best at their thing. ‘The Last Boy-Scout’, ‘Darkman’, ‘JFK’, ‘Terminator 2: The Last Judgment’ … each one of them supposes an exemplary sample of the best genre. ‘Dying yet’ deserves no less. Everything is in place, even if it was picked up by a hurricane.