September 09, 1996 12:00 PM

Kyle MacLachlan, Elisabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Richard T. Jones

Dark is the mood of this disturbingly effective drama, and not just because of the massive power failure on which the plot turns. Directed by screenwriter David Koepp, who co-wrote the script for 1993’s Jurassic Park and penned the year’s blockbuster Mission: Impossible, this smart first film provocatively dissects how a well-off suburban couple (MacLachlan and Shue) react to a crisis in which money and possessions count for nothing. When the blackout cripples their neighborhood and, it would seem, even surrounding states—the movie never makes clear how widespread it is—the two discover more about themselves, their relationship and the frailties of human ties than surely they ever wanted to know. The performances are good, particularly Shue’s (proving Leaving Las Vegas was no fluke), and the situation, with its escalating tensions, seems all too harrowingly real. Last one out, please leave the lights on. (R)

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