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USA 1999
Directed by
Bruce Beresford
105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

Double Jeopardy

The only thing that Bruce Beresford seems to have contributed to this lame thriller is his name but anyone who went to see it on the basis of his reputation as a quality director deserved to get their money back.

Ashley Judd plays Libby, a woman falsely imprisoned for six years for the murder of her husband (Bruce Greenwood). When she gets out she goes in search of her son and the truth about what really happened.

The bulk of the problem with this film is the script by David Weisberg and Douglas S. Cook which not only is direly formulaic in plotting and routine in dialogue but shows a remarkable indifference to the laws of probability or logic or even basic credibility. Combine this with the typological casting and blandly glossy production values and you really want to ask Beresford ‘Why?’.

The film, with its attractive white middle class single mother, handsome scumbag of a husband, grizzled parole officer-cum-father figure (Tommy Lee Jones) seems to be intended for a female audience (or, at least, one as undemanding as possible) with Judd sailing thru harrowing situation after situation (including, somewhat oddly, being incarcerated in a huge prison dormitory) with little more than a need for a touch-up to her mascara. Greenwood is your stock charming villain with a remarkable sang-froid when it comes to replacing girl friends. Tommy Lee Jones is, needless to say impossible to believe as a former law professor but as a parole officer at least his trademark gruffness lends the film the only purchase it has on the viewer’s credulity.  

Presumably there is the lingering memory of the 1944 Billy Wilder classic Double Indemnity (and I don't know how valid the legal implications of the title are) but that whatever inspiration that film might have provided has been well and truly lost here.




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