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Twisted (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director Philip Kaufman; Creating a Twisted Web of Intrigue; The Investigators: The Clues of Crime. San Francisco: Scene of the Crime; Cutting Room Floor - with commentary; 10 extended/deleted scenes; Theatrical trailer.

THERE are a number of questions which surface midway through the psycho-sexual thriller, Twisted, none of which, sadly, have anything to do with the intricacies of the film itself.

Questions such as what made talented character actors such as Andy Garcia, Samuel L Jackson and David Strathairn want to appear in it, and why a film-maker of Philip Kaufman’s calibre want to direct it?

Right from the outset, Twisted feels like a weary re-tread of countless other cop thrillers, with Clint Eastwood’s Tightrope springing mostly to mind.

It is supposedly designed as a strong female lead for Ashley Judd, who portrays a newly-promoted, career-driven, but sexually promiscuous detective, who suddenly finds the men she has been sleeping with being murdered.

But it ends up becoming a woefully embarrassing exercise in self-humiliation for the actress, whose shortcomings consistently become exposed by the absurdity of the premise.

Judd possesses neither the charisma, nor the desperation, required to make her part interesting, coming across as a particularly unsympathetic heroine, who appears hopelessly out of her depth. Worse still, she seems to be a magnet for cinematic cliché.

Not content with making her a lone woman in a male-dominated world, the film also sets her up as a figure with a dark family secret and as someone with a propensity for rough sex, roughing up her suspects, and a fondness for the booze at night. Oh, and she also has a protective father-figure in the form of a caring police commissioner (Jackson).

She is a walking, talking, disaster zone, and audiences can’t help but snigger when she tells her psychiatrist (Strathairn) that she is mentally perfect.

When the bodies start piling up, however, Judd quickly begins to question her own sanity and complicity, while also suspecting her new partner (Garcia) of acting more than a little strange.

The ensuing investigation is described as a twisting, suspenseful character-study, tautly written to conceal a surprise ending; yet it seldom manages to rise about the snigger-worthy.

Both Garcia and Jackson are guilty of hamming it up, while Strathairn looks awkward and uncomfortable as the psychiatrist who is prone to spouting the obvious.

It is never a good sign when people start laughing at plot revelations, rather than gasping, particularly as this wasn’t devised as a comedy.

Kaufman, who is usually quite adept at handling complicated subject matter, such as The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Right Stuff, here seems to have lost his way, seldom allowing the movie to rise above the mediocrity of its script, or the increasing silliness of its premise.

And while the fog which envelopes much of the San Francisco-based locations is supposed to serve to raise the tension, it may ultimately be Judd’s career which gets lost in it.

Garcia, Jackson and co should have known better, so let’s hope this is just a blip. This is not so much Twisted, as wretched.

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