In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_otcv3wwkz0vjyicozgz2ahej5uv

John Wick

The film breathes exhilarating life into its tired premise, thanks to some dazzling action choreography, stylish visuals and–most importantly–a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves.

Thumb_j0gvkbn0bjd9wfkn6jxr1kbyu5

Low Down

Preiss' movie does a consistently excellent job of explaining the lure of jazz, and the psychology of addicts, their enablers and their children, without explaining…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Life Itself Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Jagged Edge

  |  

Directors like to talk about playing the audience like a piano, about making movies that are efficient machines for assaulting our emotions. "Jagged Edge" is a movie like that, a murder thriller that dangles one clue after another before our eyes, daring us to decide who committed the murder. The machinery in this movie is so efficient that we don't know the answer until the very last shot - and I'll be getting back to that last shot in a moment.

The film stars Jeff Bridges as a powerful San Francisco publisher whose wife is brutally murdered in their isolated oceanside home. After an investigation reveals that he stood to inherit his wife's entire fortune, he is arrested and charged with the murder. Glenn Close plays his defense attorney. At first, she insists she has retired from courtroom cases, but then Bridges convinces her that he is innocent. And before long, she is also convinced that they are in love.

The Close character stands at the center of the film. Is she defending the man she loves against the unjust charges against him? Or is she defending a cold-blooded killer, who might murder her just as he murdered his wife? There are moments in "Jagged Edge" when either of these possibilities seems convincing, but most of the time we just don't know. There's a lot of evidence on both sides.

Close's courtroom opponent is the assistant DA (Peter Coyote). They worked together a few years ago on a case where, she believes, he concealed evidence in order to win a conviction. Is he concealing evidence this time? There comes a time when we think he may be. And by then the film's tension is so tightly wound that we, and Close, don't know what to believe.

"Jagged Edge" is supremely effective at what it sets out to do - toy with the audience. It's another effective thriller from Richard Marquand, who made "Eye of the Needle." The performances are good and the plot is watertight, as a whodunit must be. I have only one quarrel with the film, but it's a fairly substantial one. The movie only wants to keep us guessing. The characters are developed only in ways intended to string us along. Any behavior is possible if it will further the plot. There's no sense of reality beneath the gleaming surface.

Even that would be all right, if the movie didn't reveal the identity of the real killer in the final shot. Here's my theory: In a movie that exists only to tantalize us with clues and deceptive evidence, we shouldn't find out who the killer was - because that should be what we're arguing about as we leave the theater. Once the killer is unmasked, his crime reflects on everything else we know about his character, and that's more realism than you really need in a well-oiled machine.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

"1941": An Appreciation and Interview with Bob Gale

An appreciation of "1941" and interview with Bob Gale.

A free man: L.M. "Kit" Carson, 1941-2014

An appreciation of filmmaker, writer and actor L.M. "Kit" Carson, a singular talent.

NYFF 2014: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”

A review of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" from the 2014 New York Film Festival.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus