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MURDER BY NUMBERS
USA & UK: Warner Bros
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling, Michael Pitt, Agnes Bruckner, Chris Penn, R D Call, Ben Chaplin, Tom Verica, Anne Aubin, Krista K Carpenter, Joe La Piana, Michel Paulson
Director: Barbet Schroeder
UK: 120 mins
USA Rated: R for violence, language, a sex scene and brief drug use
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong language and moderate violence
USA Release Date: 19 April 2002
UK Release Date: 28 June 2002
The body of a young woman is found in a ditch in the woods of the small Californian coastal town of San Benito. Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) is the seasoned homicide detective and crime scene specialist assigned to the case along with her new partner Sam Kennedy (Ben Chaplin).
The two detectives make their way through microscopic hints of evidence, which seem to indicate a random act of violence, but Cassie has a gut feeling that there is more to this murder than meets the eye. Something about this case reminds her of her past exactly at a time when she is asked to appear at a parole hearing on an old police matter. These events force Cassie to revisit the past.
Cassie intently focuses on solving the mystery, from the available evidence. She meticulously builds an image of the killer from the scant clues left behind at the crime scene. Her new partner Sam is smart and eager. His patience and inherent goodness compliment Cassie's razor-sharp intelligence and dry wit. He seems happy to have such a brilliant mentor in Cassie despite her rocky history with partners.
The evidence leads the two detectives to a young man named Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling). His unique pair of boots, which he reported stolen from his locker, may have been worn by the killer at the crime scene. Richard is very cooperative and has an airtight alibi. Cassie and Richard click in a way that sets Cassie on edge and she intuitively suspects there is more to Richard's story. After meeting Richard, Cassie and Sam begin to view the evidence in two different ways. Sam continues to form a picture from the microscopic elements left by the killer. Cassie uncharacteristically seems to spin out on instinct, hunches and ghosts from her past. She pulls all of these elements together in a very disturbing theory that Richard Haywood and his secret friend, Justin Pendleton (Michael Pitt), came together to commit a perfect crime. Her belief in this theory cuts her off from Sam and eventually jeopardises her authority on the job.
Richard and Justin are unlikely friends. Although they are both from comfortable middle-class families, their personalities couldn't be more opposite. But they also have a lot in common and formed a secretive friendship, converting an abandoned lodge into a clubhouse for secret meetings. Over the months they hatched a plan to guarantee their total loyalty to each other. Maybe it started as a joke but then turned into a dare - "Let's try to commit the perfect murder!" - that's Cassie's theory, born out of her past and her brilliant talent as a forensic specialist.
Solving this perfect murder forces Cassie Mayweather to free herself from the tormented past she buried long ago.