Starring: Victor Garber, Brenda Fricker and Callum Keith Rennie
CDA Entertainment
Certificate: 12
Available now

When the torso of a man is discovered, the victim's wife is pretty much unconcerned. Evelyn Dick tells the police they were separated. But when his blood is found in a car which she hired, she is arrested for the killing. A high-profile court case ensues, during which her character is brought into disrepute and her own mother's testimony condemns her to hang. However, a small-time appeals lawyer arrives, and we learn that from a young age Evelyn was manipulated by her parents into being a high-class prostitute and bringing money and expensive gifts back to the household. But she refuses to blame her parents in court. The lawyer gets her off when he tells the court that much of the evidence was collected in a subsequent search, giving any householder the opportunity to plant that evidence. But just when the future is looking brighter a gristly discovery is made. The ashes of an infant are found in a suitcase in the attic, an infant which the woman claims she gave up for adoption...

Even after this revelation we learn through flashbacks that she really did give it up for adoption, but the implication is that the infant was passed to the woman's mother. She does nothing to help her own reputation, appearing in court wearing slitted skirts and bright-red lipstick. The public and media openly call Evelyn a slut, and later a child-killer. At no points does she act fearful of her parents, and yet she refuses to implicate then. It's never made quite clear whether this is because of love and respect for them, or perhaps a religious upbringing.

Torso is set in the post-war 1940s. In an attempt to create the appropriate setting and atmosphere we are subjected to moody Sam Spade-type saxophone which, quite frankly, is so annoying it nearly drove me to murder.

Throughout the film the accused chain-smokes, blowing thick white clouds over everybody, as if this is part of her sexuality, rather than giving cancer to anyone within a half-mile radius.

Quibbles aside, this is not a bad film; there is simply nothing there to make it in any way memorable. Far from being a blockbuster, it could easily disappear into the afternoon schedules of Channel 5, and with no extras to explore I can't see Torso attracting the attention of many people.

This film is based on the book Torso: The Evelyn Dick Case, by Marjorie Freeman Campbell. Having witnessed the structure of the film, it's easy to believe that it's a format much better suited to the printed page.

Ty Power