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Instinct
cast: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr, Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, and George Dzundza

director: John Turteltaub

118 minutes (15) 1999
Touchstone DVD retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
A noted anthropologist is accused of murder but remains silent. An ambitious young psychiatrist thinks he can get the alleged killer to speak. A battle of wits ensues as these two men explore the heights of spiritual peace, the depths of violent rage, and a fascinating view of broken family relationships. Are we back in Diane Fossey territory here? Or is wild man Anthony Hopkins' blunder-in-the-jungle an effort to play Tarzan as a mental patient? Hopkins turns in another powerful performance as the educated man who has lived among gorillas for two years, but his co-star, Cuba Gooding, Jr is only moderately likeable as the over-earnest shrink.
   Renowned simian expert Peter Elliott does his usual best as trainer of those people in Stan Winston's woolly suits (here credited as 'special character effects') and, sure enough, they do move and act like the great apes that we used to see at the zoo, before zoos went out of fashion. And yet, however convincing they may be, the 'apes' don't have enough screen-time for us to tell one from another, and Hopkins ends up having to carry the film entire film through the intelligently scripted and strongly emotive, but numbingly predictable, prison interview sessions. Which just leaves, surprisingly, Hopkins' screen daughter (Maura Tierney), to pick up the pieces left scattered around by Gooding's largely blank faced style of acting. Tierney is quite stunning in her few scenes, making the most of limited screen time and an obviously underwritten part and, with relative ease, making Gooding's efforts look feebleminded by comparison.
   DVD extras: just the basics - scene access, four language soundtracks, choice of eight subtitled languages, and that's all.

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