Identity (2003)
May 6, 2023 1:46 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Complete strangers stranded at a remote desert motel during a raging storm soon find themselves the target of a deranged murderer. As their numbers thin out, the travelers begin to turn on each other, as each tries to figure out who the killer is.

Starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, John C. McGinley, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Rebecca De Mornay.

Directed by James Mangold. Written by Michael Cooney. Music composed by Alan Silvestri.

63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Hulu. Also available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (13 comments total)
Goes absolutely bonkers in the third act in a way people either tend to love or hate.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:46 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]

It's literally Donald's movie from Adaptation. I would almost be inclined to think Charlie Kaufman had ghostwritten it except that, um.

it's kinda bad
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:27 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]

I think the ending redeemed the movie, in that it moved it up from a totally generic to a still pretty mediocre but memorably odd flick.

This may seem an odd comparison, but I remember talking about it with a friend at the time, both of us Philip K. Dick fans. We both felt it had a bit of the tone of one of his mid-tier novels, one of the ones where about half way through Dick gets bored and just decides that the lack of variety and originality up to that point is because it was all in the head of a character (or a computer or a second rate comic book writer) of limited imagination.
posted by mark k at 3:43 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]

Just based on the cast alone, this should have been a much better movie than it was. The twist was kind of telegraphed too much and didn't really make up for the mess that the story had already become. It felt like there was a better version of the movie just nearby but they never managed to catch it.
posted by rikschell at 5:09 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]

I have a real fondness for this movie. I fully accept it is a bit of a mess on most levels but there's something about the overall mood and atmosphere and the initial setup that is hugely entertaining. Vibes, as the kids say that days. The little hints that people aren't who or what they say they are and the mounting paranoia is done very well.

You have to feel for Jake Busey, he only really gets to play one kind of role but he does do it with commitment.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:47 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]

For the questions "Is this a bad movie?" and "Do I like this movie?" my answer is YES.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:46 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]

The first third, or even half, of this movie was very exciting for me. I'm not much of a horror/thriller fan, but it was very atmospheric, good acting, interesting situation, not excessively gory or gratuitously sleazy. And then....uhh. I was really expecting the twist to be that one of the first people bumped off would be revealed to be the killer---a modern "And then there were none" type thing; and maybe some psychic connection based on birthdays, somehow? I was a cashier as a teenager, back when people wrote checks and stores demanded i.d.; and I saw lots of birthdays near mine, but never the same as mine. When I finally did meet someone with the same birthday, they said the same thing, and we felt odd and special about that. But when it became apparent the film was going with a, to me, weird tired trope, I just got bored.
Side note: recently rewatched Adaptation, and it was funny to realize that, yes, this is Donald's film!
posted by winesong at 10:01 AM on May 7

I saw this in the theatre 20 years ago (Oh fuck) and I have not seen it since, but whenever it pops up it inspires a warm affection that many other objectively better movies I saw around that time do not; that fantastic cast is big reason, but it's also just fun in a way that a lot of suspense movies I encounter don't seem to be.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:20 AM on May 8

Goes absolutely bonkers in the third act in a way people either tend to love or hate.

Did this film recently get rediscovered? Did it show up on a streaming service? I've noticed a bunch of reviews and people talking about it lately which seems odd to me. I saw it in the theatre when it came out, maybe accidentally while on date (the memory is hazy, kind of a funny date movie tho). I was not dazzled. Identity feels like someone saw the Ninth Configuration and decided to make it less complicated. James Mangold, to his credit, went on to better things. So I think that puts me in the "hate" category.

As a caveat I guess, I have a very high threshold of bonkers so I would not call this bonkers personally (this isn't On the Silver Globe which I watched recently - that's bonkers but that's unfair really as few filmmakers can match Zulawski on the bonkers scale).
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:05 PM on May 8

It has not been streaming in several years and is now on Hulu.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:18 PM on May 8

I thought the movie was OK when I watched it, probably around release. It came out right around the time Matt Ruff's Set This House in Order book came out, which kind of runs together in my head. Wasn't there another movie that came out around the same time that had a similar premise, of American roadside motel murder, I mean, not the multiple personalities part (or maybe it was, too?).
posted by Literaryhero at 11:41 PM on May 9

Haha had to rewatch trailer to remember this and pretty quickly got irritated all over again. The twist was a complete waste of time, I will give it credit for cracking me up just remembering it for it's sheer stupidity.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:10 AM on May 10

I liked TF out of this. So much talent in this.

Clea Duvall and Amanda Peet and Rebecca De Mornay.

John Hawkes! So good. I hope that he's choosy and not that he's passed over for parts.

Pruitt Taylor Vince is typecast AF, but whatever works for him.

That third act. More of a metaphor than factual. Is my apologia anyway.

Ginny: Virginia: Organ Donor - No
Lou: Arizona: Organ Donor - No
Paris: Florida: Safe Driver, Motorcycle also
George: Illinois: (Organ) Donor (yes)
posted by porpoise at 7:59 PM on May 11

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