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At the local antique shop, Algernon bumps into a mysterious, beautiful woman, Madge Clerisy (Carrie-Anne Moss), and she too soon turns up on Algernon’s doorstep. Madge, who claims to be a professor of Egyptology, is convinced that Algernon’s great grandpa has left a priceless Egyptian treasure buried somewhere on the property and wants to try to find the hidden loot. Meanwhile, Norbie, who has all kinds of cash stuffed in his suitcase, becomes increasingly despondent and shoots himself in front of Algernon.
Fearing the incident looks more like murder than suicide, Algernon buries his friend in the back yard. Unfortunately, Madge reappears just as he is trying to cover up the the telltale signs of the death, and she becomes suspicious about Norbie’s disappearance. She uses those suspicions to convince Algernon that he should help her exhume great granddaddy to see if there’s any treasure buried with the old guy.
Each plot twist is more far-fetched than the one before, which is actually one of the more charming aspects of this quirky pic. Jarrott sensibly keeps the tone playful and maintains a warm, homey humor throughout the film. Although “The Secret Life of Algernon” is short on memorable drama or genuinely hilarious moments, it remains a pleasant enough diversion.
It helps that Cullum, a co-scripter here with Jarrott and John Gray, seems tailor-made for the role of Algernon, giving the character just the right mix of goofiness and charisma. Moss is also good as the manipulative, sexy Madge. Pic is nicely shot by Greg Middleton, who makes good use of the sparkling, wintry landscapes, and Graeme Coleman’s score is full of haunting melodies.
John Cullum ... Algernon Pendleton
Carrie-Anne Moss ... Madge Clerisy
Charles Durning ... Norbie Hess
Hrant Alianak ... Mahir Sulleyman
Kay Hawtrey ... Mrs. Binney
Ivan VanHecke ... Lajos
Malcolm Wilson ... Salesman
Dawn McKelvie Cyr ... Female Driver
Year Released: 1998 - Running Time: 106 min - Language: English
Video & Audio: 8 out of 10
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Photo shown for identification purposes