‘The Oxford Murders‘ is a 2008 thriller directed by Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia. It involves a serial killer who leaves mathematical clues for a mathematical theorist to solve the next victim.
Martin (Elijah Wood) arrives at Oxford in 1993, renting a room from the aging Mrs. Eagleton (Anna Massey) and her daughter Beth (Julie Cox). Mrs. Eagleton is a good friend of Dr. Arthur Seldom (John Hurt), a mathematician whom Martin wants as his thesis supervisor. His office-mate Podorov (Burn Gorman) bitterly mocks Seldom’s work, calling him a “sell-out.” Hoping to impress Arthur at a Q&A, Martin asks a question only to be humiliated by Seldom. He considers leaving Oxford, even after meeting the beautiful nurse Lorna (Leonor Watling), with whom he begins a relationship. On returning to his apartment, he finds Arthur approaching. Things are tense at first, but they make the startling discovery that Mrs. Eagleton has been murdered. Seldom tells Scotland Yard Inspector Petersen (Jim Carter) that he received a cipher with a perfect circle. Seldom believes it is connected to a book he wrote where he stated that a serial killer cannot commit the perfect crime. Despite Lorna’s warnings, Martin becomes obsessed with helping Seldom solve the case and stopping the murders.
This movie was bad. I do not know how else to put it. While it a very interesting premise, the movie had such poorly written dialogue that I often struggled with laughing out loud at some of the conversations between the protagonists. It was cheesy, vain, and obtuse at times, making it difficult to take seriously at times. This took all of the suspense out of the movie and ruined what could have been an interesting mystery.
It was not just the dialogue, there were technical issues as well. For example, there was this weird dubbing issue with Burn Gorman’s character. At times, his voice audio did not sync up to his lips. I wonder if they overdubbed him later, perhaps because of a mic problem, but it was completely obvious every time he spoke.
The performances were not that great either. Wood, Hurt, and Watling are all incredible actors, but it seemed like they were just trying to work with what they had. They all were lackluster, but I think it was more of a directing issue than anything. I wonder if the filmmakers knew that had an issue with the writing, so they cast the best actors they could get a hold of hoping to even it out. It was a fail.
Bottom line, The Oxford Murders is a wasted opportunity and effort. Despite an impressive cast and an interesting premise, it fails to deliver on its mystery.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Sexuality/Nudity, Strong language, Violence, Disturbing images
FAVORITE QUOTE: The only perfect crime that exists is not the one that remains unsolved, but the one which is solved with the wrong culprit.
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.