Have you ever seen a movie that you really liked, despite knowing that it is not really a good film? I am sure you have. You watch a movie, and there is something about it, the characters, setting, plot, something that just draws you in, holds your attention, and makes you love it; a movie that holds you in its grasp for its entire running time, during which it can do no wrong.
For me, Watching the Detectives is one of those movies. That is not to say it is one of my all-time favorites, or will be appearing on any top lists anytime soon, but there is something about that struck a chord with me.
Cillian Murphy stars as Neil. Neil is a movie enthusiast who runs his own video rental shop, serving a niche audience, specializing in old, classic, and B movies. He spends his days hanging around the shop discussing/arguing about movies with his friends. His business is slow, but he makes do. While his love is clearly for the movies, which he watches day and night, often acting out scenes with his friends, he does have a life outside of the shop. Unfortunately, that life involves Denise, his soon to be ex-girlfriend who is not nearly as supportive as the women in the films he watches.
One day, a slow one at the shop, a woman named Violet (Lucy Liu) wanders in looking for a movie to rent. Neil seems to be immediately taken with the odd woman, and when she asks him out, he jumps at the opportunity.
Their initial encounters are strange affairs as Violet exhibits some seriously quirky personality traits. The first among them is a condition she calls "bore-ophobia." Basically, she believes in doing rather than watching, and proceeds to involve Neil in these "adventures."
To truly describe the plot would risk giving entirely too much away. I know saying that is something of a cliche, but don't you prefer to discover the surprises on your own? This is a movie that floats along, not really doing much other than making you a fly on the wall watching the lives of Neil and Violet as their relationship develops.
The relationship is quite interesting, buoyed by the considerable chemistry between Murphy and Liu. Liu's Violet could be compared to the shark in Jaws, coming and going as she pleases, leaving chaos in her wake, making one man's pursuit of her all the more insatiable. The wilder and crazier the adventures Violet instigates, the more Neil chases after her.