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Posted on 5/29/11 11:24 PM
Curiously watchable but ultimately pointless and at the end disturbing & absurd.
There's a paradox about some of the bad 70's drug movies that, in the end, what seemed fun turned out to be just a bad trip.
Antonioni failed with Zabriskie Point, which began with political conviction but turned into a pointless odyssey. The star of that movie was so identical to his character that he left Hollywood, joined a cult, robbed a bank and died in prison just a few years after the film.
Jennifer On My Mind could be described as an "enjoyable flop." The most disappointing thing is its potential, how it lures you in to this 1971 scene but goes nowhere.
It's an attractive looking film, well shot in some nice European and Long Island locations, with a hauntingly beautiful theme and a couple very good actors. Intelligent, interesting actors who, unfortunately have to walk through this journey with nothing to do in their life and nothing to say to us except they have all this money and are just going waste their lives.
With rival films like Easy Rider and The Panic In Needle Park, the characters knew they were in deep trouble, but they were helpless and desperate. They reached the point of no return, so we watched sadly, knowing it would end.
Jennifer On My Mind is a happy film. It could have been a romantic comedy. It doesn't have a sad or depressing vibe to it. Jennifer & Marcus are smart, upscale kids who could easily be in a graduate program at NYU. They smoke a little pot, but in the context of traveling the world and talking like civilized, educated adults, that's not even an issue. They are not street addicts in the slums, they are sophisticated, classy people.
There is no sign of drug addiction from them or their families. The movie just throws that in because that was the scene at the time. Marcus goes to a drug dealer to buy some hash for Jennifer's birthday. It's funny a scene with this dealer pulling an entire pharmacy out of his refrigerator.
Another hysterical scene follows, as Marcus, stumbling wasted through New York escapes a couple thugs following him, into a taxi driven by a very young up & coming Robert De Niro. In his 40+ year career, I've never seen De Niro as funny as in this brief 10-minute scene. He takes Marcus to Jennifer's house, where she is being entertained by two musicians. But as Marcus approaches, they are giving her a shot of heroin. We are supposed to presume and believe that in the short time they separated, she became a junkie? There was no story development to suggest that.
She comes to visit him one day and it appears to be a happy reunion. But out of nowhere she begins screaming & freaking out. When he goes to check, she is cooking some heroin, then walks on top the wall of the deck outside his high-rise apartment. This final act leads him to throw her in his car & take off. But then again, out of nowhere, in the final bizarre scene, some crazy motorists on the interstate decide to terrorize him & run him off the road and the movie literally crashes & burns.
I can almost hear the Steppenwolf song "Snowblind Friend" playing in the background. The epitome of the drug generation, the song is a tale of an old friend who got in with a bad crowd, became an addict & slowly demised.
Jennifer was played by a beautiful, smart, sexy actress named Tippy Walker, who had a short career, and quit acting after this film. Why? Turn on, tune in, and drop out, I guess.