Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
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.