Picks and Pans Review: Jagged Edge
Pity poor Glenn Close. First she's saddled with Maxie, a mirthless comedy. Now she's trapped in a murder melodrama that does get laughs, but the unintentional kind. Close plays Teddy Barnes, a corporate lawyer forced into a criminal case involving her stuffy firm's wealthiest client, Jack Forrester, As played by Jeff (Starman) Bridges, Forrester is one of those charmers who have everything—old money, material goods, a great job (he runs a San Francisco newspaper) and a beautiful wife. Well, he had a beautiful wife. At the start of the film, the wife—an heiress who provided the money, goods and job—is being brutally murdered, ritually cut by a knife with a jagged tip. The DA, snakily played by Peter (E.T.) Coyote, accuses Forrester. Money is not the only motive. Forrester's paper has been smearing the DA's tactics in editorials that might cost the DA a future Senate seat. Aha! Then there's the tennis pro (Marshall Colt), who's into S&M; the dead wife's girlfriend (tartly done by Leigh Taylor-Young), who lusts after Forrester; and everyone but the butler. Screenwriter Joe (Flashdance) Eszterhas ham-handedly rounds up the usual suspects as if he thought the old Perry Mason TV series was the last word in sophisticated jurisprudence. Life can still be breathed into courtroom drama as long as it has surprise (Witness for the Prosecution), atmosphere (Anatomy of a Murder) or a riveting performance (Paul Newman in The Verdict). Jagged Edge misses in all departments. Close tries, but her role is criminally misconceived. We're supposed to see her as an intelligent career woman and divorced mother, but the script undermines her at every turn. It's difficult to admire the ethics or logic of a lawyer who goes to bed with her client and then reacts like a child when she thinks he's lying. The scene that gets the most laughs, next to the use-every-cheap-horror-trick-in-the-book ending, comes in the courtroom. Close doesn't merely sit shocked when a surprise witness undercuts the man she loves. Director Richard (Return of the Jedi) Marquand, perhaps more accustomed to evoking human emotion in foam rubber characters like Yoda, has Close cup her hand over her mouth and pop her eyes wildly in a double take worthy of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Better luck next time, Glenn. (R)
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