Jagged Edge Reviews
This is the kind of atmosphere established in the first five minutes of Jagged Edge, a movie with a screenplay built like a thriller, textured like a noir, and laced with eroticism. For these reasons the movie is usually criticized as "manipulative," but this is actually why the movie works so well. No, as a critic I hate manipulative movies but if by the end I've realized that I MYSELF have been manipulated, even I know I have just seen a good (sometimes great) movie. We go to the cinema to laugh, cry, smile, and be sucked in the whole time. This is why Jagged Edge works. And no, this movie is not just about that. In fact, its more authentically perfect facet is in it's performances. Jeff Bridges underplays his character with such precision that throughout the movie you can't tell if he's a tortured soul or happy bastard, and this is all by his facial expressions. Glenn Close is just as excellent; she remains so perfectly womanly but her presence is like dynamite in a gasoline tank. She's conflicted & melancholy, despite not having much to be conflicted about, except the fact that returning to her job as a lawyer causes an emotional uplift in her life. One of the best scenes in the film is when the Bridges character storms out of his widow's room, and the camera lingers on Close for longer than usual. The sound of the rain cancels out everything. This is the personification of sadness. The director, Richard Marquand, knew that the sound would enhance the moment, but I doubt anyone knew how allegorical it is. Highly recommended for people who have ever thought about wanting to see a courtroom-drama remake of Body Heat directed by Brian De Palma. Be on the lookout for a Return of the Jedi poster, for which was also directed by Marquand.
Teddy's past success rate is high, but things might not be so simple this time around. Years ago, she was involved in a high profile case that has left her hesitant to take on big name clients; Jack is the first she's defended after a long period of self-inflicted isolation. She's skeptical of his innocence - the nature of his wife's death is awfully suspicious, as if it were crafted by a killer trying to throw investigators off track - but the more she gets to know the man she's saving, the more sure she is of his decency. A short time later, the more sure she is of her being in love with him, a torrid affair ensuing as a result. But things can't quite be so novel in an astute nail-biter in the vein of "Jagged Edge," and so we can expect that there's a slight chance that Jack could be the murderer and could just be seducing Teddy to distract her from the truth.
But that's a lot of coulds, and we're never able to land on a solid conclusion because we're so swayed by Jack's likability; he seems too good a guy to be a killer, we tell ourselves, and Close, a plucky, smart heroine, would never be dumb enough to fall under his spell. Or is he a nice guy, or is she too intelligent to go against her best judgment? We go back and forth with such proclamations throughout "Jagged Edge," and that suspenseful unease is what makes it such a remarkable wallop. Its twists and turns are comparable to "Anatomy of a Murder," "Basic Instinct," and one of Hitchcock's few rejects - we've basically seen it all before (the courtroom revelations, the idea that your lover might kill you as soon as they would make love to you), but it's all done supremely well, with acerbity, carnality, and with a backbone of cogent performances.
Directed by Richard Marquand ("Return of the Jedi," "Eye of the Needle") and written by Joe Eszterhas ("Flashdance," "Basic Instinct"), it's all enthralling and neatly galvanic, and I especially like the way Close is at the front-and-center, the men good but only distractions in the scope of the film's entirety. Robert Loggia, as her right-hand man, is an enjoyably grumpy curmudgeon, and Bridges, with his teddy bear ruggedness, is a terrific question mark of a character because we have so many preconceived notions about Bridges already (most of them being positive, heroic). "Jagged Edge" is the sort of spellbinding thriller that keeps us two steps behind its winner of a plot, and I prefer it that way - to never stop guessing, and to never stop wanting to guess, in a whodunit, is a dream, and the film is a humdinger of its kind.
Soooo dreadfully Eszterhaz predictable. Saw the end coming 2/3 of the way through. (Which is probably way later than most people -I'm slow.)
Fun Fact: Glen Close actually looks semi-female in this pic. Which is essential for the film to have any credibility, otherwise, who would believe Jeff Bridges would dip his wick in THAT???