The film works on many different levels, but has a calm and discreet side that might make some impatient viewers a little uncomfortable. Fans of Blood Simple and other neoblack films will enjoy this film, as will I.
A traumatized woman carefully plans her revenge.
In the months following the sexual assault and rape, Julie Kenner (Stephanie Rasco in an indelible performance), a housewife in total shock, goes into a near-catatonic state and becomes mentally ill. Her husband (John S. Davis) runs around her with his two young daughters, and he constantly calls on neighbors and doctors to help him with Julie, who is balancing on the edge of insanity. When Julie hears a report on television about someone impersonating someone else with fake IDs and birth certificates, a seed is planted in her mind, and she comes out of her gloom and begins a plan to impersonate different people using bills she receives from the city clerk’s office. She began opening bank accounts and starting a new life in another place, while continuing her daily activities as a homemaker and part-time businesswoman. Her husband has no idea, and even as he begins an affair with a neighbor, Julie changes her appearance and mannerisms to make a name for herself in her double life as a beautiful barfly. Her plan gradually becomes outrageously transparent when her rapist is released on deferred sentence, and we realize that all along she has been planning revenge.
Positive I.D., with its great artistic and stylistic subtlety, is a wild and fascinating ride, especially since I had never heard of it. The film was distributed by Universal, which took it over from writer/producer/director Andy Anderson, whose Texas team raised eyebrows with powerful drama. What makes the film so good is the actress Rascoe, who never really played a leading role again after this film, and she is a real diamond in the rough. It’s hard to take your eyes off her and she manages to give a great physical performance. The film works on many different levels, but has a calm and discreet side that might make some impatient viewers a little uncomfortable. Fans of Blood Simple and other neoblack films will enjoy this film as much as I did.
Kino Lorber is releasing a Blu-ray edition of Positive I.D. next month, and I can’t recommend it enough. This is the first time the film has gotten a Blu-ray, but Universal has already released the DVD on demand, and Anchor Bay also released the DVD almost two decades ago. The film edition is by far the most definitive yet and also includes a new audio commentary by the film historian and a trailer.