“Fracture,” reviewed by Susan Granger

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Recalling his chilling performance in “The Silence of the Lambs,” Anthony Hopkins creates a conflicted but cunning criminal in this tantalizing psychological thriller.

When mechanical engineering industrialist Ted Crawford (Hopkins) realizes that his beautiful, much-younger wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is committing adultery, he cleverly plans the perfect murder and meticulously executes it. But there’s a strategic twist. The LAPD detective (Billy Burke) who arrests him is stunned to discover that Jennifer is the mysterious woman with whom he’s been having a clandestine affair, a sordid detail he fails to disclose to ambitious assistant district attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), who has a 97% conviction rate.

So when Crawford’s case comes to court, Willy suddenly discovers he lacks hard evidence for what should be a clear-cut conviction, much to the chagrin of his boss (David Strathairn). Willy’s frustration is heightened because he’s been offered a lucrative position with a prestigious law firm and opportunistically seduced by his mentor (Rosamund Pike). It seems that a weak spot, or “fracture,” can be found in any facade.

Superbly crafted by screenwriters Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers and directed with fluid grace by Gregory Hoblit (“Primal Fear,” “Frequency”), it’s a puzzling, character-driven how’d-he-do-it, as opposed to whodunnit. Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau and production designer Paul Eads achieve exquisite visual elegance utilizing Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall, L.A.’s new performing arts center.

With the naturalism of a young James Stewart, Ryan Gosling focuses the emotions of someone caught in an ethical and moral dilemma. As the witty, emotionally manipulative killer, Anthony Hopkins strikes not a single false note in a precise, tightly controlled, fiendishly combustible character. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Fracture” is an intense, intriguing 8. Challenging and provocative, it’s hard to stop thinking about.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.