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Jagged Edge
USA 1985
Directed by Richard Marquand
Running time 108 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Despite being unremarkable in all respects, in its day Jagged Edge was a box office smash that catapulted Glenn Close (in a role originally slated for Jane Fonda) into the A-list, a standing that she cemented in her next film, Fatal Attraction 1987

Written by Joe Eszterhas whose penchant for the sex-violence nexus would have its most famous incarnation in Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992) and its most infamous in the same director’s Showgirls (1995) it tells the story of  lawyer Teddy Barnes (Close) who reluctantly takes up the case of publisher Jack Forrester (Jeff Bridges), who is charged with murdering his wealthy wife for her money by ambitious D.A., Thomas Krasny (Peter Coyote).

On the upside the fact that the bulk of the action takes place in a courtroom keeping us mentally engaged rather than entertained by visceral thrills (the violence only occurs at top and tail of the film) and the film runs through its paces quite efficiently,although Teddy's boozy helper (Robert Loggia) turns up witnesses with remarkable ease and consistency and it was unclear to how Teddy uncovered the existence of an earlier, similar killing, traces of which Krasny supposedly buried.

Dramatically however Jagged Edge suffers from a split in focus, with more heat being generated by the Teddy/Krasny relationship than the Teddy/Jack one, as it should have been. This is largely because Bridges is simply unconvincing as a man supposedly covering up the fact that he is consumed by “greed and lust” (a deficiency which plays into the film’s abrupt and unconvincing ending). Close, not an actress one associates with vulnerable, is not particularly effective in suggesting a woman seduced by Jack’s supposed charms. She is much better in her courtroom stoushes with Krasny, to whom Coyote gives the right amount of smarmy dishonesty. The resulting predominance of plot over psychological credibility recalls the plot-driven thrillers of the 1940s, something that in the day would have starred Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.

Director Richard Marquand basically illustrates the script but John Barry's score manages to add something to the proceedings.

All up, Jagged Edge is one of those films that just seem to have gotten lucky, swept to success more by audience auto-suggestion than any inherent merits of their own,

 

 

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