Saturday, March 13, 2004


Ashley Judd plays Jessica Shepard. Jessica has issues. She has anger. She has loss. She has sex. She has drinks. Jessica hides her feelings. Ashley Judd is a great actor. Ashley hides her acting skills. Jessica hits people. A lot. Twisted hits the audience with anvils. A lot.

Can you tell I was a little disappointed? Here's a movie with a great plot: Jessica Shepard is a newly promoted San Francisco homicide inspector. The victim in her first assignment is a man she knew briefly. As is the second. And so forth. Her parents died when she was young when her father, who was also on the SFPD, went on a shooting spree which concluded with his wife and finally himself. Jessica was raised by her father's partner, who by the time we come into the story, is the Police Commissioner.

Jessica pretends she's the perfectly well-adjusted rising star, but each night she cuddles up with a bottle of wine and her parents' crime scene photos. She begins experiencing blackouts around the time of the new murders and no one, including Jessica, can be sure if she's a target or a suspect.

The cast is great: Ashley Judd at the center, Samuel L. Jackson as her boss/father substitute, Andy Garcia as her new partner, David Strathairn as the department psychiatrist, Camryn Manheim as the crime labster extraordinaire, D.W. Moffett as the ex-prosecutor and present defense attorney, and Leland Orser as the creepy perp.

And look! It's Russell Wong, of the brief-lived Black Sash! I guess he got his job back on the SFPD after all. I hope Mako is taking good care of the school. It was such a cool place. We know that Nick moved on and became a witch/whitelighter from the future, who has to make sure his parents create him in the past and that his perfect big brother doesn't grow up to become a crazed magical maniac. But that's another story. At least everyone stayed in the Bay Area.

Back to Twisted. I got the feeling that Ashley Judd was trying so hard to project Jessica's efforts to hide herself from everyone around her that she forgot to show anything to the audience. I didn't feel any depth from the character most of the time. I could understand if they started off this way and then slowly let us see more as she understood more, but I never felt like we were let in on the process. She had a really cool black vintage Mustang, though.

There were a few times when the dialogue, blocked acting and lack of chemistry between actors combined to make me really think "Oh, this is so bad." Most of the time, though, I just wished they had given us something more than what the final cut turned out to be. Any scene between Ashley Judd and D.W. Moffett felt like it had been filmed separately for each actor. The first such scene included the timeless line, "Back when you were in the district attorney's office, you lived to nail guys like this to the wall."

They do a good job of keeping you guessing as to who the killer is, but that's mostly because almost all the characters are so flawed that you can picture any and all of them having done it. I can think of only one character who is likable all the way through. I won't say who, but you'll know who I mean if you see it. If you don't see the film, it's probably because you just don't care, so it won't matter if I don't tell you. If you just have to know and don't want to drop the $10 at the theatre or wait until the DVD, drop me an e-mail and I'll fill you in. I'll even tell you whodunnit if you ask nicely.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:00 PM