Jagged Edge (1985) / Thriller-Mystery
MPAA Rated: R for nudity, sexuality, strong violence, and language
Running time: 108 min.
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Peter Coyote, Robert Loggia, Leigh Taylor-Young, John Dehner, Marshall Colt, Diane Erickson, William Allen Young
Cameo: Lance Henriksen, Michael Dorn
Director: Richard Marquand
Screenplay: Joe Eszterhas
Review published November 9, 2007
In San Francisco, a rich heiress and her maid are found murdered, leaving the husband everything, including the accusation for the killings. That man is Jack Forrester (Bridges, Starman), whose marriage allowed him to rise to the ranks of head editor of the city's most popular newspaper. The District Attorney, Thomas Krasny (Coyote, Sphere), is out to make a name for himself by putting away Forrester, but on Jack's side is former Assistant DA Teddy Barnes (Close, Fatal Attraction), who once worked for Krasny until she discovered that he suppressed evidence in a case that would have exonerated the defendant. Throughout the case, Barnes wavers between her feelings, partially due to attraction and partially due to a sense of not quite being able to trust Forrester completely. As romance brews, the question remains in her own mind -- did he or didn't he do it?
Although there isn't much to Jagged Edge in terms of flash and brilliance, as it is a fairly standard courtroom drama mixed with a romance as culled from Hitchcock's Suspicion, it still is able to entertain. It's one of Joe Eszterhas's (Basic Instinct, Showgirls) early works, sort of a precursor to the increasingly steamier crime thrillers he would make throughout the 1990s, complete with sadomasochistic stabbings while tied up in bed, as well as one of his main themes surrounding a normally good and law-abiding person being seduced by the allure of someone accused of heinous and unsavory acts. What could have been just a teaser of a script comes to life thanks to solid casting, with Close getting much of the credit for portraying vulnerability and depth beyond what the story might have ordinarily called for. Bridges, Coyote, and Loggia (Prizzi's Honor, Scarface), who plays Teddy's partner in crime solving, are also uniformly charismatic.
On the weakness side, when the film strays from dealing with the plot at hand, the level of interest in the film also wanes. A subplot dealing with Barnes' kids and their desire for her to get back together with their father seems rather superfluous, while the constant reemergence of the case that caused Barnes to stray from prosecuting criminals gets more screen time than is necessary for the purposes of the overall story. Although they do offer a few twists and nuances, for the most part, the only compelling quandary at the heart of the film is whether or not Forrester indeed committed the crimes, and if so, will he get away with it. It's not a particularly substantial or important film, but, as mentioned previously, it often captivates.
If you enjoy courtroom dramas, seedy thrillers, or the work of the two leads, it should deliver the goods you seek.
©2007 Vince Leo