Sony // 1985 // 108 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Margo Reasner (Retired) // May 12th, 2000
When a murder case is this shocking, which do you trust...your emotions or your evidence?
For those that love psychological thrillers Jagged Edge is a classic must see.
The story begins on a stormy night in an elegant house set overlooking the ocean. Inside, a masked intruder is climbing the stairs with a gloved hand holding a knife. He enters a sleeping woman's room, ties her up and then brutally murders her. We next see District Attorney Thomas Krasny (Peter Coyote -- Cross Creek, Sphere, Random Hearts) driving through the storm toward the crime scene and we find out that the murdered woman's name was Page Forrester and that her husband John Forrester (Jeff Bridges -- Arlington Road, The Big Lebowski, White Squall) has been rushed to the hospital with a head injury. Page Forrester was a wealthy socialite whose grandfather had formed the Times-Lofton Publishing empire. John Forrester (Jack) ran the company, but Page controlled all of the money that the two of them had and Jack is named as Page's only beneficiary in her will. It doesn't take DA Tom Krasny very long to decide that Jack is the most likely suspect. He feels that Jack has murdered his wife to take all the money; the oldest crime in the world. Jack feels that Krasny is going after him as a suspect because a high profile trial against a wealthy man accused of killing his wife would be good political visibility and Krasny is getting ready to run for the Senate.
Jack turns to his business attorneys when Krasny officially accuses him of murder, but the only person in their firm that has done criminal work is a woman who now practices another type of law. Jack presses them to convince her to take the case. When the firm approaches Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close -- Air Force One, Fatal Attraction, The Big Chill) she reminds them that she has given up criminal work and that nothing in the world would make her go back to it. They offer her a partnership in the firm if she will reconsider and she decides to talk to Jack in order to make a decision about representing him. We soon find out that Teddy last worked as a prosecutor in DA Krasny's office and that something bad had happened in the Styles case that had made her never want to do criminal law again. She does, however, take Jack's case after meeting and talking to him.
The rest of the film involves finding out more about the murder of Page Forrester and also about these three main characters. The viewer is constantly having to re-evaluate what they know about each character when a new piece of evidence involving the murder is revealed. It's a roller-coaster ride full of twists and turns to the end.
There's a lot to talk about here in regard to what's right about this movie. First of all, it's set in one of the most beautiful locations, San Francisco. The movie starts with a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge in the early evening and other Bay Area locations are sprinkled throughout. This movie also has an unforgettable score by John Barry. It's unique and sets the tone for the mood of the film. The music leaves no doubt about when something sinister is about to happen and the basic theme lulls you into a sense of calm.
Further, the story is very well written. (Writer Joe Eszterhas was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for this picture.) We get to know each of the characters from their interactions with each other and the pieces of evidence for the trial are presented in a logical way that keeps you guessing about what actually happened. You may watch this today and say, "Yeah, I've seen something like this before," but that is only because more recent movies have tried to copy the essence of this one. Three things make this film stand out from the copies. One is the directing by Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi), another is the previously mentioned music score, and the last thing is the acting of the three principles and Robert Loggia (who was nominated for an Oscar for his role as crusty criminal investigator, Sam Ransom). We are pulled into the story by the images that we see and by the music that we hear. This perfect backdrop is the canvas that the three main actors use to create a suspenseful story.
Jeff Bridges and Glenn Close used these dynamic characters to demonstrate their ability to play versatile roles. Jeff Bridges had just gotten done playing Starman and Terry Brogan in Against All Odds and Glenn Close had just finished her role as Maxie and was about to play the obsessed Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. Both of them put in believable performances here and were well on their way to becoming major stars. Peter Coyote puts in what could be considered his best performance ever as Thomas Krasny. He plays the perfect political climbing villain here (the studio even took out an ad in Variety putting his name up for a nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Krasny).
The picture is presented in both pan and scan full screen and widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio enhanced for widescreen TVs. The quality of the picture lives up to the high standards that Columbia Pictures is known for. The sound is presented in two-channel Dolby Surround and is adequate given that this is a mostly dialogue driven film. Extras include a production notes insert; talent files for Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close and Richard Marquand; and bonus theatrical trailers for Against All Odds, Arlington Road, Air Force One, and The Natural.
There are only three minor gripes for this DVD. The most major one is that the theatrical trailer for Jagged Edge is not included. I was really looking forward to seeing how this one had been advertised when it came out. Since Columbia has been pretty good about including trailers lately, I'm guessing that maybe it got lost or was in too bad of shape to have been included; a real shame if either has happened. The second gripe is that the DVD cover is very, very unattractive. I don't usually care what a cover looks like, but this cover would turn me off from buying the DVD and I'm a real fan of this type of movie. And lastly, there are a couple of editing goofs sprinkled throughout; like Teddy's outfits during the cross-examination. However, the movie is so engrossing that you probably won't notice them until you watch it during a repeated viewing.
Fans of psychological thrillers should add this to their collections as well as Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close and Peter Coyote fans. Others should give this one a rent if they think that they might be interested.
Everyone involved is acquitted.
Review content copyright © 2000 Margo Reasner; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Production Notes Insert
* Talent Files for Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close and Richard Marquand
* Theatrical Trailers for Against All Odds, Arlington Road, Air Force One
* Jeff Bridges
* Peter Coyote