Murder By Numbers

It’s been suggested that director Barbet Schroeder nowadays makes two kinds of pictures — mainstream thrillers like this one and edgy art house fare like Our Lady of the Assassins — but one could also argue that the same meticulous craft, as well as a certain morbid soullessness (filmmaking by numbers?), characterizes his work in both spheres. On this outing, Schroeder’s focus on a creepy pair of young murderers (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt) clearly patterned after Loeb and Leopold is as unpleasant as anyone might wish, and despite the charm of Sandra Bullock as a hard-nosed homicide detective, why anyone might wish to see something so unpleasant isn’t clear. Neither the crime nor its detection is especially interesting, and screenwriter Tony Gayton doesn’t appear to be aiming for psychological insights. With Ben Chaplin as Bullock’s junior partner, Agnes Bruckner, Chris Penn, and R.D. Call. 100 min. (JR)

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