Murder by Numbers
Opens Fri April 19
Various Theaters

A better title for this movie would have been Plot by Numbers, as the storyline is so formulaic, it might as well have been put together by an accountant. Sandra Bullock is a cop who specializes in arresting domestic violence offenders, because she was a victim of domestic violence once herself. This is all revealed through some unconvincing sobbing on the part of Sandra.

When two high school killers plot the perfect murder, Sandra is there on the double, ready to break their balls. Through her detective skills, she discovers that the two killers are spoiled high school students without any guidance or limits, and that they decided to kill someone in a "desperate cry for help." Meanwhile, she uses this whole ordeal to conquer her own issues.

I know. Gag.

However, among the cliché rubble of this film stands one beautiful, tall, intact pillar of solid acting: Michael Pitt (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bully). Pitt must be a really disturbed guy, because in all of these movies, he plays an extremely convincing, fucked-up teenager.

Pitt walks around for most of the movie looking like he's about to suffer a horrible anxiety attack, burst out crying, or vomit at any moment. Actually, he does all three of these things in different scenes throughout the film. Unlike his counterpart, the bland, Calvin Klein model lookalike Ryan Gosling, Pitt actually looks like a kid who could be a serial killer. His hair is greasy and long. He has huge, dark bags under his eyes. He's either standing around being cagey, or impulsively grabbing girls and making out with them. Seeing this film is worth it just to see the gothy, tortured indie star act alongside Sandra, a talentless romantic comedy specialist.

This is one of those movies where you know all along that the two kids are guilty, so the challenge is figuring out how they did it, why, and who is the brains behind the operation. There are some really gross scenes that involve cutting off the fingers of dead people and also, some slightly surprising plot twists at the end. It's captivating, but only because Michael Pitt's convincing disturbingness radiates into the rest of the film. Thank god for the reality of fucked-up teenage boys.