|Simon Baker as mysterious Malcolm|
THE LODGER (2009). Writer/director: David Ondaatje. Loosely based on the novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes.
In West Hollywood Ellen Bunting (Hope Davis) and her husband (Donal Logue) rent a room to a handsome writer named Malcolm (Simon Baker), whom Ellen is strongly drawn to. Meanwhile Detective Chandler Manning (Alfred Molina of Spider-Man 2) and rookie detective Street Wilkinson (Shane West) investigate grisly slayings of prostitutes which first remind them of the work of a convicted and executed killer who may have been innocent, and then seem to be copycat killings of Jack the Ripper. Oddly, the same year this was released British television came out with the superior Whitechapel: The Ripper Returns which also had a copycat Jack the Ripper. Another similarity is that both of these stories pair a grizzled veteran with a new, much younger cop, whom the veteran assumes is gay but turns out (supposedly) not to be [Wilkinson lets Manning's dumb homophobic remarks just slide]. Since there are gay cops it might have been more refreshing if Wilkinson had really been gay, and it makes little sense that he allows the obnoxious Manning to think he is without correcting him. What The Lodger has going for it is that it delivers a couple of unexpected and clever twists at the end, but unfortunately it never really delivers the much-needed tension or suspense due to directorial slackness, and the characters aren't that well developed; Manning is unsympathetic as well. The performances are good, however. Tasmanian actor Baker has starred as The Mentalist on CBS for several years.
Verdict: Worth a look for the ending if nothing else. **1/2.