Television

Irresistible, and lethal

Real-life Mountie and wife-killer Patrick Kelly stalks the screen

Andrew Clark November 29 1999
Television

Irresistible, and lethal

Real-life Mountie and wife-killer Patrick Kelly stalks the screen

Andrew Clark November 29 1999

Irresistible, and lethal

Television

Real-life Mountie and wife-killer Patrick Kelly stalks the screen

Murder Most Likely

(CTV, Nov. 28, 9 p.m.)

It is easy to love someone who treats you well, but it can be easier to love someone who treats you badly—especially when the offending party looks like Canadian actor Paul Gross. Best known for his work as the upright Const. Benton Fraser on the series Due South, Gross plays a much more roguish—and more intriguing—Mountie in Murder Most Likely. The compelling, two-hour drama chronicles real-life Toronto RCMP officer Patrick Kellys descent from promising rookie to money-runner for organized crime to wife killer. Basing their story on journalist Michael Harris’s book, The Judas Kiss, the producers changed some of the participants’ names but Kelly’s role remains unadulterated. On March 29, 1981, Kelly murdered his first wife by throwing her from the balcony of a highrise condominium. Currently serving a life sentence at William Head mediumsecurity prison in British Columbia, Kelly still maintains his innocence, claiming that his wife fell while trying to stop an irritating ratde. In Gross’s performance, he emerges as a fascinating antihero, a charismatic sociopath.

The actor pouts and purrs with seductive aplomb as he artfully portrays the sinister charm that allowed Kelly to manipulate his co-workers, friends and many lovers. In Kelly’s hands, lies are aphrodisiacs that the women in his life consume with blind relish. No matter how ludicrous his excuses—and by the end of the film he has resorted to some incredible falsehoods—his admirers are

eager to go along with the charade. Orbiting around Gross’s morally bankrupt protagonist is a constellation of willing dupes played admirably by MarieJosée Croze (as Kelly’s first wife) and Kim Huffman (as his second).

The story may not be finished. The prosecution’s key witness has confessed to lying under oath. Based on this revelation, Kelly filed an application for an appeal (his first was turned down, but another is pending). Displaying in real life the gall that Gross exudes in the movie, the convicted murderer sent the producers of Murder Most Likely a lawyer’s letter warning them to give fair weight to the recantation. While the film does that, it nevertheless becomes clear that Kelly is not someone to be believed or trusted—even if, in Gross’s captivating performance, he is irresistible.

Andrew Clark