R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Philip Kaufman
scr Sarah Thorp
with Ashley Judd, Samuel L Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn, Mark Pellegrino, DW Moffett, Camryn Manheim, Russell Wong, Richard T Jones, Titus Welliver, Leland Orser, Joe Duer
release US 27.Feb.04; UK 9.Jul.04
04/US 1h37

The investigation continues: Pellegrino, Judd and Jackson

judd jackson garcia
Twisted Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
The only surprise in this supposedly tricky thriller is that the script attracted this cast and director. Otherwise it's moviemaking by numbers, and if you haven't figured out whodunit about 10 minutes in, your brain has been lulled to sleep. But it's a slick, dreamy Hollywood kind of sleep--painless and relatively entertaining as long as you don't engage your mind.

Jessica (Judd) is really one of the boys in the San Francisco Police Department--drinking, swearing and engaging in anonymous sex like there's no tomorrow. Just promoted to homicide, she's just starting on her first case when she begins to suspect that she's actually the murderer, killing men during alcohol-induced blackouts. And yet she doesn't stop drinking! This is because she has a Tortured Past: Her parents died tragically and she was raised by her cop father's partner (Jackson), who's now a top police commissioner. Her new partner (Garcia) seems a bit suspicious, as do a couple of her former bed-buddies (Pellegrino and Porter), but maybe the police shrink (Strathairn) can sort her out before she kills again. Although we all know she's not the killer!

Director Kaufman, apparently working for the money, at least adds some intriguing visual style to Thorp's profoundly derivative script, which is so jammed with cliches that it hurts. The acting is strong. Judd has an interesting screen presence that wins us over, even though we've seen her play this character before (High Crimes, Kiss the Girls). She's obviously more shaded here since she drinks constantly, has a hot temper, wears a black leather jacket and drives a vintage (black) Mustang! Meanwhile her costars do their best as well to inject some class and offbeat energy to the otherwise plodding storyline. It gets sillier and cornier by the minute, and it's only watchable because of the talent that seeps through the cracks. And the only mystery is why the studios keep spending so much to make this exact same film over and over again.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sex 4.Mar.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... twisted Laurie T, Minneapolis: 1.5/5 "This had all the makings of a real suspenseful scary movie, and I wanted to like it. You have a good cast and a scary setting - foggy beaches and a woman with 'problems' from her past. Judd's character was raised by her father's partner after he had gone on a killing spree ending by killing himself and her mother - or so the story goes. She drinks too much and picks up guys in bars, sleeps with them and never returns their calls. And all of a sudden she is having blackouts - waking up not remembering chunks of time and she is feeling like she is being followed. Like I said, all the makings of something really scary - I WANTED to be scared! But the plot fell short on that end. Not really a terrible movie - it just did not live up to what I felt it could be. My husband said he could tell I was not that scared cuz I only grabbed his arm once, and not too tightly. And I can't neglect to mention Camryn in her new role as pathologist/coroner - geeky eccentric doctor-type. She was genuine and played her part well, but my gripe is this: Why are so many crime-solving scientists portrayed as eccentric oddballs? I am tired of seeing the brainy doc as a misfit!" (29.Feb.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall