Murder by Numbers [2002]

While reinventing Leopold and Loeb for a new and troubled millennium, Murder by Numbers probes the disturbing psychology of two teenaged murderers and the cleverness of their crime. Like Hitchcock's Rope and other films inspired by the Leopold and Loeb case of the 1920s, the film intensifies as it explores the repressed (and subtly homosexual) tensions between high-school outcasts Richard (Ryan Gosling) and Justin (Michael Pitt), who randomly kill a woman to enact an amoral philosophy--and to tease a savvy homicide detective (Sandra Bullock) with misleading clues. While clashing with the by-the-book procedure of her partner (Ben Chaplin), Bullock gives one of her best performances in a role that comes with its own set of psychological hurdles. It's comfortable territory for Reversal of Fortune director Barbet Schroeder, who draws fine work from his cast while proving that there's no such thing as a perfect crime. --Jeff Shannon

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