Synopsis: When an heiress is brutally murdered in her remote beach house her husband soon finds himself accused of her murder. He hires lawyer Teddy Barnes to defend him, despite the fact she hasn’t handled a criminal case for many years.
Stars: Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Peter Coyote, Robert Loggia
Director: Richard Marquand
Running Length: 108 minutes
TMMM Score: (7/10)
This is a pulpy little thriller from the mid 80’s that probably was responsible for ushering in movies like Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Final Analysis, Guilty as Sin, and countless other films where a protagonist is blinded by their animal attraction to someone that may be out to do them harm.
Almost thirty years after it was originally released (yikes!), revisiting Jagged Edge has become something of a yearly trip for me and I still enjoy it. Time has been kind to the film, owing in large part to a restrained script from Joe Eszterhas (before he went over the, um, edge with the aforementioned Basic Instinct and, later, Showgirls) and two strong lead performances in Close and Bridges.
Before Close became known for playing unhinged women in a string of films, she was a reliable guiding force in whatever project she was working on and that’s true here as well. Though her seemingly intelligent lawyer winds up doing a lot of stupid things, Close brings a class to it that’s hard to deny.
Bridges handles the role of the widower accused of killing his wife for her money well and he rolls nicely with the twists that the movie doles out without hinting either way whether he’s guilty or not. Loggia turned his foul-mouthed, wise-cracking private investigator working with Close into a deserved Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and Coyote is appropriately blustery as a shady District Attorney.
Set along the Bay Area of California and several of its outlying coastal towns, Jagged Edge is directed just fine by Marquand (Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi) but really benefits from an effectively dissonant score from John Barry and interesting cinematography courtesy of Matthew F. Leonetti.
The film chugs through many a red herring and courtroom drama mechanics in its journey to a decent but not wholly satisfying conclusion. I’ve some thoughts about the wrap-up that I won’t go into here as it would spoil the ending for you and I don’t want to give it all away. You see, even if the ending doesn’t totally work in hindsight the film succeeds because everything that leads up to it lands and lands well. As far as movies of this ilk go, Jagged Edge easily rises to the top of the pile for me.