Alejandra Sain

Written by Alejandra Sain

Modified & Updated: 05 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


A Perfect Murder is a thrilling suspense movie that captivated audiences when it was released in 1998. Directed by Andrew Davis, this film is a modern-day adaptation of the play ‘Dial M for Murder’ written by Frederick Knott.

Starring Hollywood heavyweights Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortensen, A Perfect Murder weaves a complex tale of deception, betrayal, and manipulation. The film follows Steven Taylor (Douglas), a wealthy investment banker who suspects that his wife, Emily (Paltrow), is having an affair. Fueled by jealousy and a desire for revenge, Steven meticulously plots the perfect murder.

As the movie unfolds, viewers are taken on a suspenseful journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. A Perfect Murder is a masterclass in tension-building and psychological manipulation, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Key Takeaways:

  • “A Perfect Murder” is a thrilling crime film based on a play, featuring intense performances and a gripping storyline that keeps viewers guessing until the very end.
  • The movie explores themes of infidelity, betrayal, and revenge, creating a suspenseful atmosphere with stunning cinematography and a haunting musical score.
Table of Contents

“A Perfect Murder” is based on the play “Dial M for Murder” by Frederick Knott.

The movie is a modern adaptation of the 1952 play, which was also adapted into a film in 1954.

Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow reunite after their collaboration in “Seven” (1995).

The chemistry between the two actors can be felt on screen, as they deliver stellar performances in “A Perfect Murder” as well.

Viggo Mortensen plays a pivotal role in the film as the lover of Emily Taylor (Gwyneth Paltrow).

His character adds an intriguing twist to the storyline, creating tension and suspense throughout the movie.

The movie was directed by Andrew Davis.

Known for his work on other thrilling films like “The Fugitive” (1993), Davis brings his expertise to create a suspenseful atmosphere in “A Perfect Murder.”

The movie explores themes of infidelity, betrayal, and revenge.

These themes are masterfully woven into the narrative, keeping the viewers on the edge of their seats.

The iconic line “I always remember a face, especially when I’ve sat on it” was improvised by Michael Douglas.

This line showcases the wit and charisma of the character he portrays in the film.

“A Perfect Murder” was a commercial success, grossing over $128 million worldwide.

The movie’s gripping storyline and talented cast drew audiences to the theaters, making it a box office hit.

The film’s score was composed by James Newton Howard.

Howard’s haunting and suspenseful music adds another layer of intensity to the movie.

The movie was primarily filmed in New York City.

The city’s iconic landmarks and gritty atmosphere contribute to the overall atmosphere of the film.

“A Perfect Murder” marks the third collaboration between Michael Douglas and director Andrew Davis.

Their previous collaborations include “The Fugitive” (1993) and “Under Siege” (1992).

The film’s screenplay was written by Patrick Smith Kelly.

Kelly’s adaptation of the original play successfully captures the tension and suspense of the story.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, Emily Taylor, faces a life-threatening situation throughout the movie.

Her portrayal of a vulnerable yet determined woman adds depth to the storyline.

The movie keeps the audience guessing until the very end.

The twists and turns in the plot will leave viewers on the edge of their seats, eagerly trying to piece the puzzle together.

“A Perfect Murder” was released by Warner Bros. Pictures.

As a major film studio, Warner Bros. Pictures ensured the film was given wide distribution and marketing reach.

The film garnered mixed reviews from critics.

While some praised the performances and suspenseful atmosphere, others felt it lacked originality compared to its source material.

“A Perfect Murder” was nominated for Best Thriller Film at the Saturn Awards.

The movie’s gripping storyline and intense performances were recognized by the Saturn Awards committee.

The film features stunning cinematography by Dariusz Wolski.

Wolski’s visually captivating shots and attention to detail enhance the overall viewing experience.

The movie’s tagline is “A powerful husband. An unfaithful wife. A jealous lover. All of them have a motive. Each of them has a plan.”

This tagline encapsulates the central conflicts and motivations of the main characters in the film.

The plot of the movie revolves around a planned murder intended to look like the result of a burglary gone wrong.

This clever twist adds layers of complexity to the storyline, keeping the audience engaged.

The movie’s suspenseful scenes are expertly crafted to keep the tension high.

The skillful direction and editing create a sense of unease and anticipation throughout the film.

“A Perfect Murder” explores the lengths people will go to protect their secrets and their loved ones.

The movie delves into the dark side of human nature, examining the moral dilemmas faced by its characters.

The film’s production budget was approximately $60 million.

This significant investment in the movie’s production showcases the commitment to creating a high-quality thriller.

The movie’s ending leaves room for interpretation.

Viewers are left contemplating the characters’ fates, adding an additional layer of depth to the narrative.

“A Perfect Murder” features several intense and suspenseful action sequences.

These sequences heighten the suspense and excitement of the film, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

The movie showcases the consequences of deception and manipulation.

The characters’ actions have far-reaching consequences, leading to a thrilling climax.

“A Perfect Murder” was released during the summer movie season.

Its release date strategically positioned it to attract a wide audience looking for thrilling summer entertainment.

The iconic shower scene in the film pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960).

This nod to the master of suspense adds a touch of nostalgia to the movie.

The movie’s gripping storyline and intense performances earned it a dedicated fanbase.

Even years after its release, fans continue to appreciate the film’s suspenseful and engaging elements.

“A Perfect Murder” remains a popular choice among lovers of the thriller genre.

Its intricate plot and skillful execution make it a must-watch for fans of suspenseful cinema.

The film’s original score received critical acclaim.

The haunting musical compositions further elevate the tension and atmosphere of the movie.

The success of “A Perfect Murder” led to the release of a novelization of the film.

Written by H.R.F. Keating, the novel further expands on the story and characters.

The film explores the complexities of relationships and trust.

Through its characters, “A Perfect Murder” examines the fragility of human connections.

“A Perfect Murder” is filled with thrilling plot twists and unexpected revelations.

The story keeps viewers on their toes, always anticipating the next shocking development.

The movie’s screenplay underwent several revisions to ensure a gripping and cohesive narrative.

The collaborative efforts of the filmmakers shaped “A Perfect Murder” into the engaging film it is today.

The film’s costume design by Ellen Mirojnick helps establish the characters’ personalities.

The meticulous attention to detail in the costumes adds depth and realism to the film.

“A Perfect Murder” was praised for its atmospheric and stylish production design.

The visually striking sets and locations contribute to the overall aesthetic of the film.

The characters in the movie are embroiled in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse.

Their actions and motives constantly keep the audience guessing.

The movie’s opening scene sets the tone for the suspenseful events that follow.

From the very beginning, viewers are pulled into the intricate web of deceit and intrigue.

“A Perfect Murder” continues to be praised for its solid performances, tight script, and gripping storyline.

Even after more than two decades, it remains a classic in the suspense thriller genre.

In conclusion, “A Perfect Murder” remains a captivating and thrilling film that keeps viewers hooked from start to finish. The combination of talented performances, compelling storytelling, and expert direction makes it a must-watch for fans of the genre. So, grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and immerse yourself in the world of this mesmerizing crime suspense film.


In conclusion, A Perfect Murder is a gripping and thrilling movie that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. With its compelling plot, stellar performances from the cast, and masterful direction, it is no wonder that this film has become a favorite among moviegoers. The intricate web of deceit, suspenseful twists, and unexpected turns make it a must-watch for fans of the thriller genre. Whether you are a fan of crime dramas, psychological thrillers, or simply enjoy a well-crafted movie, A Perfect Murder delivers an unforgettable cinematic experience.


Q: Who directed A Perfect Murder?

A: A Perfect Murder was directed by Andrew Davis.

Q: When was A Perfect Murder released?

A: A Perfect Murder was released on June 5, 1998.

Q: Is A Perfect Murder based on a book?

A: Yes, A Perfect Murder is based on the play “Dial M for Murder” by Frederick Knott.

Q: Who are the main characters in A Perfect Murder?

A: The main characters in A Perfect Murder include Michael Douglas as Steven Taylor, Gwyneth Paltrow as Emily Bradford Taylor, and Viggo Mortensen as David Shaw.

Q: What is the plot of A Perfect Murder?

A: A Perfect Murder tells the story of a wealthy man who hatches a plot to murder his unfaithful wife’s lover.

Q: Is A Perfect Murder a suspenseful movie?

A: Yes, A Perfect Murder is known for its suspenseful plot and gripping storyline.

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