That the subject material dealt with in the new film "Positive I.D." is worthy of attention doesn't really help matters much. It fact, it becomes a source of even greater frustration.

There should be no trouble parceling out the blame for turning this compelling idea into tepid TV-problem-drama stuff. The Texas auteur Andy Anderson, who wrote, produced, directed and helped with the editing, would appear to be the likeliest suspect. The cast, which includes Stephanie Rascoe, John Davies and Steve Fromholz (all Texas actors with extensive stage training), must take some of the flak as well.

Comparisons have been made between this film and "Blood Simple," but what could they be based on? That both films are set in Texas? Rascoe is Julie, a Texas housewife who, a year after being brutally raped, cannot put the pieces back together. The best therapy, as it turns out, is revenge. (We knew that, right?) When watching the news one night, Julie sees a report on a man who was arrested for systematically assuming a handful of fake identities, complete with drivers' permits, credit cards, and other forms of ID. This triggers a plan in Julie's mind, and before long she's set up a completely alternate life as Bobbie, complete with her own run-down apartment and an active night life, which includes regular visits to a nearby bar.

Throughout most of the movie, Julie/Bobbie's actions don't seem to have much of a point, though her motive is never in doubt: Somehow she wants to get even with her assailant, who is about to get out of jail.

What we're supposed to see is how Julie, whose husband is having an affair with a neighbor and whose drab middle-class life is unfulfilling, comes into her own in her wigs and false eyelashes. Playing another woman supposedly releases her inhibitions and loosens the hold of past traumas on her. And it's true, she does have more energy as Bobbie. But this seems to be more a function of Anderson's design than anything else. Also, if you think for a minute, it might have been simpler just to take an improv class.

Positive I.D., at area theaters, is rated R and contains some violence and adult material.