Lowe plays his role pretty well, but it’s Tilly who wins the movie with her understated, sexy and vulnerable performance.
A wealthy young woman falls in love with a handsome young man she knows very little about, and unbeknownst to her, there’s a complicated plot to end her life for her fortune.
Coquettish heiress Olivia Lawrence (well cast Meg Tilly) is sitting on a 300 million dollar fortune, and after her mother dies, she returns home from college to find that her lecherous stepfather (John Glover) is living in her house with a mistress (Dana Delaney), milking the family fortune for every dollar, as he overspends his monthly allowance in a matter of days. On a whim, Olivia attends a ball and meets a handsome young man named Tim Whalen (Rob Lowe), a penniless sailor who is known around town for having affairs with beautiful married women, most notably Brooke Morrison (Kim Cattrall), who is married to a rich captain Tim works for. It’s a happy accident that Olivia and Tim hit it off and begin a sweet courtship, and Tim appears to not care at all how rich Olivia is, despite warnings from her attorneys and extended family. When Tim and Olivia make love for the first time, her stepfather bursts into the room in a rage, and in the scuffle Tim kills the other man (in self defense), but what happens next gets complicated: Olivia insists on taking the blame, leaving Tim completely out of it, which prompts a police investigation. Enter a policeman named Mike (Doug Savant), who has long harbored a crush for Olivia, and when he realizes that she’s lying, he keeps some evidence in the event that he can use it for leverage for his own purposes later on. With Tim and Olivia getting serious about their relationship, it seems that the clock is ticking on her life, with her fortune on the line for whoever can swindle it first …
From director Bob Swaim (Half Moon Street), Masquerade feels like a Hitchcockian murder thriller with a strong sexual undertone. Scored by John Barry, the movie is well directed and shot, with steamy sex and nude scenes (Cattrall’s nude scenes are enough to raise some eyebrows) that punctuate this strong thriller. There are plenty of twists and turns, and the ending is quite strong. Lowe plays his role pretty well, but it’s Tilly who wins the movie with her understated, sexy and vulnerable performance. If you like this one, see also A Kiss Before Dying.
Kino Lorber’s new Blu-ray edition of Masquerade nicely upgrades the previous MGM DVD from over a decade ago, and has an attractive graininess to it. Also included is an audio commentary by the director, plus the trailer.