"Color of Night" is an old-fashioned whodunit, fraught with red herrings and misdirection. The mayhem starts when Dr. Bill Capa (Bruce Willis), a psychologist from New York, goes to visit friend and colleague Dr. Bob Moore (Scott Bakula) in Los Angeles after being witness to the suicide of one of his patients. Bob convinces Bill to sit in on his Monday night session, allowing Bill to interact with the five patients who make up the group. It is also learned that Bob has been receiving death threats and that he believes it is one of the members of this group. His suspicions are soon proved right as Dr. Moore is stabbed to death in his own office.
The five members of the group are Sondra, (Lesley Ann Warren) who is both a nymphomaniac and a cleptomaniac; Buck (Lance Henriksen), who can't get past the violent deaths of his wife and daughter; Clark (Brad Dourif), an obsessive compulsive lawyer; Casey (Kevin J. O'Connor), a troubled artist; and, Richie, a 16 year-old boy who wants to be a woman. One of them is the murderer, but none fail to show up at the next session. Reluctantly working with a no-nonsense cop named Hector Martinez (Ruben Blades), Bill must first establish his own innocence before searching for clues to the killer. It does seem rather coincidental that he is there to step in and take over the practice of the best friend with whom he is so competitive.
Complicating Bob's life in a pleasant way is the new romance that he has kindled with the woman who rear-ended his car one day. Rose (Jane March) is a beautiful, beguiling young woman who manages to carry on a steamy affair with Bob without ever letting him know where she lives or what her phone number is. Complicating his life in a less pleasant way is the fact that he is now the target of the killer's ill will.
Who the murderer will turn out to be is sheerly a matter of speculation. Eventually, as more and more pieces of the puzzle fall into place, the guessing may become more educated, but it's still just guessing. As a mystery, the story is nicely handled and there's even a Big Twist that will doubtless throw many for a loop. But where the film fails is in creating the appropriate mood. Dour and drab, "Color of Night" should have matched its tone to the flamboyant characters who people it. Everything appears in shadows and muted colors, with few exceptions.
"Color of Money" has turned understatement into an art form. It gives tantalizing glimpses of what could have been a slickly-plotted thriller and then presents them in a severely subdued manner. As for the mystery itself, this is my only clue. Writers rarely include characters who are extraneous to the plot so if you can't figure out why a certain character is part of the story, chances are that his/her significance will be made manifest towards the end of the film.