Plot: Kate (Alexxis Lemire) is a rising star in the art world, as she has built a reputation for a keen eye, in both modern and vintage works of art. She has learned from her boss, gallery owner Robert (Stephen Graybill), but even he is aware that she is on the verge of surpassing his knowledge. At an exhibition of a new artist, she meets Daniel (Jordi Vilasuso) and while he isn’t an artist himself, he has inherited a wealth of paintings from his late grandfather. As he knows little about art, he wants to have them looked at, so Kate ventures to examine his newly acquired collection. The artworks are a mixed bag, some common paintings and even some forged works, but there does appear to be one that could be quite valuable. But before an auction is even arranged, some mysterious things start to happen and it all seems to be centered on Daniel’s collection, as if someone is trying to intervene. Who is behind these strange events and can Kate navigate the dangers around her new assignment?
Entertainment Value: This Lifetime thrillers offers a more straight ahead mystery angle than most of the network’s movies, with little melodrama and a grounded, story driven focus instead. This is a welcome change of pace, since not everyone wants the dialed up, manic drama, so this is a nice alternative. Of course, I love the melodrama, so I wasn’t overjoyed with a more restrained approach, but in truth, The Art of Murder is a solid thriller. The narrative is passable, with some effective twists and turns, as well as an ensemble of characters that straddle the trust line. Sometimes you side up with one of them, only to second guess their motives, then you’re blaming them, so on and so forth as the plot unfolds. I think the movie is mostly predictable, but the characters being a little hard to read helps a lot, especially since some of the side threads help distract us from the main narrative. The pace is on the slower side, but that makes sense with this more grounded style, since it takes time to build suspense and set up red herrings, so it isn’t a mile a minute here. I still prefer the wild melodramas, but for fans of more traditional mysteries, Lifetime’s The Art of Murder might scratch that itch.
As this is a toned down, more straight ahead mystery, the performances reflect that and as such, the over the top Lifetime stereotypes aren’t present here. I miss the mayhem, but I think this cast is up to the task and given the nature of the material, provide solid, appropriate efforts. I will say that the script doesn’t give them many chances to really stand out, but that is no fault of the talent involved, so while perhaps not memorable, the turns are more than solid. Alexxis Lemire has the lead role and while she does well, she is a little held back by how her character is written. She has a quieter, more reserved personality for the most part, which is fine, but it doesn’t always lead to the most interesting interactions. But Lemire does what she can and performs well, giving us a capable, if not memorable performance. Jordi Vilasuso has the best effort of the group and has that “is he insane or not” kind of vibe down pretty well, which the movie needs to work. The cast also includes Stephen Graybill, Galadriel Stineman, Mercer Boffey, and Mark Krenik.