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  Jade A Woman With A Past
Year: 1995
Director: William Friedkin
Stars: David Caruso, Linda Fiorentino, Chazz Palminteri, Richard Crenna, Michael Biehn, Donna Murphy, Ken King, Holt McCallany, David Hunt, Angie Everhart, Kevin Tighe, Robin Thomas, Jay Jacobus, Victoria Smith, Drew Snyder, Victor Wong
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: David Corelli (David Caruso) is an assistant District Attorney in San Francisco who tonight is at a ball held for the dignitaries in the city, and eyes Katrina Gavin (Linda Fiorentino) jealously as she dances with her husband and his good friend Matt Gavin (Chazz Palminteri), for he was once in love with her, but she chose the other man; he may still be in love with her. The couple have high-powered occupations, he a lawyer and she a bestselling psychologist writer, but what Corelli does not know is that they have secrets which may begin to unravel as he is called away to the mansion house of a powerful politician who has just been murdered in the most gruesome manner imaginable. What makes that worse is that it appears to have been part of a sex game that went horribly wrong...

Joe Eszterhas must have believed he could walk on air throughout the nineteen-eighties and nineties, at least until he met director William Friedkin who agreed to helm another of his erotic thriller screenplays which had done so well with Basic Instinct fairly recently. Alas, it was not to be, and Eszterhas had to suffer the additional ignominy of seeing his script for Showgirls go down in history as an abomination - even today, nobody credits it with providing anything remotely skilful for the cast and crew to work with, and director Paul Verhoeven gets all the credit for its entertainment value (okay, maybe Gina Gershon does too, to a lesser extent). Smarting from this, the writer penned a fuck you to Hollywood that was barely released and largely retired.

He could not come out and say his Showgirls script had been a terrible mistake as much of what was deemed screamingly absurd about it was all his own fault, so he took out his frustrations on Friedkin instead when they watched Jade crash and burn at a box office where nobody was interested in their efforts. He claimed the main issue with its lack of anything much decent about it was Friedkin's insistence on rewriting what Eszterhas had offered, so much so that the author said hardly any of his intentions survived in the final result. Yet there was a definite tone to what did wind up on the screen that was very reminiscent of his style, so it could be Friedkin, who was full of praise for his own work, was a clever mimic.

Certainly the frank, grown-up dialogue that would plunge into camp with some regularity was particularly Eszterhas-like, and the sexually charged, twisty-turny thriller plot was recognisably what he had settled into by this stage, so it could be that audiences had grown past his identifying marks and were keen to move on. Others put the blame on the casting, as if Michael Douglas had been around to save the day, Caruso would not have been made the fall guy for the project's disastrous reception, one of two movies he made in 1995 that flopped badly, the other being a loose remake of film noir Kiss of Death. But he had blotted his copybook by leaving his hit television show NYPD Blue, making arrogant statements to the press and his ex-colleagues to the effect that he was the only reason anyone tuned in and he had achieved superstardom now.

As it was, the series went from strength to strength without him, and Caruso floundered; watching this, you can see why as no matter how glossy Friedkin made this look, the leading man simply reminded the viewer of cop shows on television, and regardless of the rude things he and the other cast members were given to say, Jade would more likely make you giggly than excited, sexually or otherwise. For a start, this was one of those erotic movies where people kept their clothes on, having made a level of success where they did not need to strip for their roles, and couple that with plot points as the murder victim collecting pubic hair (!) or the one time we did get to see a full frontal, the woman was a dead body (and a body double), the overall effect was ridiculous if anyone thought this was going to be arousing - Friedkin desperately threw in a car chase to little effect. This was one of those mysteries where, on arrival of the scene where all is explained, it still makes no sense and nobody's motivation is properly explained, as if everyone wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and go home. You may sympathise. Music by James Horner.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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William Friedkin  (1935 - )

American writer/director who has struggled throughout his career to escape the legacy of two of his earliest films. Debuted in 1967 with the Sonny & Cher flick Good Times, but it was the gripping French Connection (1971) and phenomenonally popular The Exorcist (1973) that made Friedkin's name and influenced a whole decade of police and horror films. Since then, some of Friedkin's films have been pretty good (Sorcerer, the controversial Cruising, To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Chips, Bug, Killer Joe), but many more (The Guardian, Jade, Rules of Engagement) have shown little of the director's undoubtable talent.

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