4 Reasons ‘Murder by Numbers’ didn’t work for me

After watching Murder by Numbers, a 2002 crime thriller starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling, I started thinking of all the reasons I came away with that unimpressed taste in my mouth.

Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt in Murder by Numbers (2002)

1. Sandra Bullock

Don’t get me wrong, I love Sandy in everything from “The Proposal” to “Practical Magic.” I don’t like her as this clichéd detective with a haunted past. Boring. We get that almost every year in one movie or another, or we can just watch Olivia Benson struggle with her life in “Law and Order: SVU” all day on the USA Network. Sandy plays the character well, but it’s not her role.

2. The God-awful Sets

I’ve said it before…if you don’t have anything nice to show, don’t show anything at all. The lake house that’s shown throughout the film is beautiful, but when you go inside you’re transported to Melrose Avenue, where fake sets make this seem like a carnival funhouse. Sure, it’s location is vital to the end of the movie, but it looks terrible. It reminded me of a Hitchcock piece but in all the wrong ways.

3. Costume Design

I don’t remember 2001 looking that hideous. Silver pants, “Thriller” jackets, clumpy black turtlenecks…nothing seemed to look realistic or near fashionable. The murderous boys committed more than murder…they broke dozens of fashion laws. Director Barbet Schroeder had more chic in his “Single White Female.” It seems like a minor detail, but it’s hard to take them seriously looking like they do.

4. Michael Pitt

On the contrary to Sandy, no one could have played murderer Justin with as much creepiness as Michael Pitt. And that is precisely why he’s on this list. Now making a name for himself on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” Michael went fairly unnoticed (“Dawson’s Creek,” “Finding Forrester”) until “Murder by Numbers.” His hair “pitted” me against him from the start, and made the whole ride a rooting game for me.

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