Identity (film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Mangold
Produced by Cathy Konrad
Written by Michael Cooney
Starring John Cusack
Ray Liotta
Amanda Peet
Alfred Molina
Clea DuVall
Rebecca De Mornay
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Phedon Papamichael Jr.
Edited by David Brenner
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • April 25, 2003 (2003-04-25)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million[1]
Box office $90.2 million[1]

Identity is a 2003 American psychological thriller mystery film directed by James Mangold from a screenplay written by Michael Cooney. The film stars John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall and Rebecca De Mornay.

While it is not a direct adaptation of the 1939 Agatha Christie whodunit novel And Then There Were None, which was adapted for feature film in 1945, 1965, 1974, 1987 and 1989, the plot draws from the structure the novel first popularized in which 10 strangers arrive at an isolated location which becomes temporarily cut off from the rest of the world, and are mysteriously killed off one by one. The first several scenes also use a reverse chronology structure.


A convict named Malcolm Rivers awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. His psychiatrist, Dr. Malick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place.

Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting serial killer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George and Alice, and mute nine-year-old son Timmy. The Yorks are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed's car.

With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group prepares to spend the night. However, they find there is a murderer present, killing off each of the guests. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed, finding her severed head in a clothes dryer, thinks Maine killed her. When the guests check on him, they discover he has escaped. When Ginny flees in terror to her room, Lou chases after her but is murdered. Each body is accompanied by a numbered room key, the order of which suggests a countdown.

Maine runs through the hills, only to find himself back at the motel. He is then ambushed by Ed and Rhodes, who knock him unconsciousness and put Larry on guard duty. However, Maine is later found dead. Paris discovers a dead body in Larry's freezer, which is revealed to be the real hotel manager. Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody; he accidentally runs over George, killing him. The survivors tie Larry up, and as he tells them his story, the others start to believe he really did not kill anyone.

Subsequently, Alice is discovered to have died from her injuries. Ginny and Timmy die when their car explodes, but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining four discover that all of the bodies have disappeared, and that all ten share the same birthday and have names linked to U.S. states. Paris discovers that Rhodes is actually a convict as well; he killed the corrections officer transporting him and Maine and assumed his identity. Rhodes attempts to kill Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who is then shot and killed by Rhodes.

Back at the hearing, the contents of Malcolm's journal are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring ten distinct personalities. Malick is able to bring forth one of Malcolm's personalities: Ed—all of the events happening at the motel are concurrently occurring inside Malcolm's mind, and each one of Malcolm's personalities is represented by one person at the motel. Malick explains to "Ed" that the events at the motel are a result of treatment Malcolm is receiving: the killings are Malcolm's mental attempts to eliminate his nine excess personalities. Malick further instructs "Ed" to eliminate the personality responsible for Malcolm's committing the crimes for which he is being tried, in order to prevent Malcolm from being executed.

Back in the motel setting, Ed believes Rhodes is the murderer, and the two kill each other, leaving only Paris alive. When Malick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, Malcolm is placed in a mental institution under Malick's care. In the final scene, Malcolm is driven in a van along with Mallick to the institution. In Malcolm's mind, Paris has driven back to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends an orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Timmy, the true homicidal personality, had orchestrated all of the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed as well; he kills Paris. Now driven only by Timmy, Malcolm attacks Malick and the van's other occupants, forcing the vehicle off the side of the road.



All filming was undertaken in the United States. Some took place in Lancaster, California and other places in Los Angeles County, while the majority was shot on a sound stage at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City.

Angelo Badalamenti was originally signed to score the film, but his music was replaced with a new score by Alan Silvestri (Silvestri had previously replaced Badalamenti on 1991's Shattered).


Critical response

Identity has a rating of 62% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 169 reviews.[2] It scored 64 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating a "generally favorable reviews".[3]

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote upon the film's release, "Altogether, there are 10 guests. One by one, they die. Agatha Christie fans will assume that one of them is the murderer—or maybe it's the clerk... I think it is possible that some audience members, employing [my] Law of Economy of Characters, might be able to arrive at the solution slightly before the movie does."[4]

Mick LaSalle of SFGate reported, "At first, Identity seems like nothing more than a pleasing and blatant homage (i.e. rip-off) to the Agatha Christie-style thriller where marooned guests realize that a murderer is in their midst ... we've seen it before. Yet make no mistake. Identity is more than an entertaining thriller. It's a highly original one."[5]

The Village Voice's Dennis Lim wrote of the film's premise, "The premise of the one-rainy-night thriller Identity seems like mothballed Agatha Christie," and of the film's third act twist, "The ultimate cliché of plot-twist implausibility, the crucial revelation is so outlandishly fatuous it might have given Donald Kaufman pause. But there's nothing self-parodic about Identity—the viewer must not only swallow the nullifying third-act bombshell but actually re-engage with the movie on its new, extremely dubious terms."[6]

Brian Mckay of wrote, "This film's cardinal sin was not that it had an engrossing but extremely far-fetched setup to a lackluster resolution—a resolution that probably sounded good during the initial script pitch, but which nobody realized was going to be such a misfire until the production was already at the point of no return. No, what Identity is guilty of most is bad timing—it simply gives away too much, too soon. At about the halfway mark (if not much sooner), the film's big "twist" will finally dawn on you (and if it doesn't, they'll end up coming right out and saying it five minutes later anyway). And once it does, you will no longer care what happens afterward."[7]

Box office performance

Identity opened on April 25, 2003 in the United States and Canada in 2,733 theaters.[1] The film ranked at #1 on its opening weekend, accumulating $16,225,263, with a per theater average of $5,936.[8] The film's five-day gross was $18,677,884.[9]

The film dropped down to #3 on its second weekend, behind newly released X2 and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, accumulating $9,423,662 in a 41.9% drop from its first weekend, and per theater average of $3,448.[10] By its third weekend it dropped down to #4 and made $6,477,585, $2,474 per theater average.[11]

Identity went on to gross $52.1 million in the United States and Canada and $38.1 million overseas. In total, the film has grossed over $90 million worldwide, making it a box office success against its $28 million budget.[1]


The film was nominated for Best Action, Adventure or Thriller Film and Best DVD Special Edition Release at 30th Saturn Awards, but lost to Kill Bill Volume 1 and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, respectively.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Identity (2003)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  2. "Identity (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  3. "Identity (2003)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  4. Ebert, Roger (April 25, 2003). "Identity (2003)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  5. LaSalle, Mick (September 5, 2003). "There's no way out of motel from hell". Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  6. Lim, Dennis (April 29, 2003). "No Exit: Hell Is Other People". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  7. McKay, Brian (August 5, 2003). "Review: Identity (2003)". Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  8. "Weekend Box Office Results for April 25–27". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  9. "Daily Box Office Results for April 29". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  10. "Weekend Box Office Results for May 2–4". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  11. "Weekend Box Office Results for May 9–11". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 29, 2015.

External links

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