March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini

Nicolas Cage is a private investigator tracking a girl who may have been murdered while starring in a snuff film. The tattooed porno-shop clerk (Phoenix) serving as Cage’s guide to the porno underground tells him, “You name the vice, I’ll name the price.” The price turns out to be perilously high in this mirthless but fairly intriguing thriller written by Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven) and directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman & Robin), which shows Cage being increasingly drawn into the porn netherworld, alternately attracted and repelled by what he sees.

Eight Millimeter is dark and deep but not as deep as it thinks it is, particularly in its resolution. Cage continues to impress but spends much of Eight grimacing like the poster boy for a migraine drug. Keener, who normally gives any film a lift (Out of Sight, Your Friends & Neighbors), has naught to do here but whine as Cage’s wife. Both Phoenix and Gandolfini, as a porno producer, convincingly wriggle in the slime that covers their characters. (R)

Bottom Line: Darkly diverting, sunk-in-the-muck thriller

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