JADE is William Friedkin's hot new mystery, thriller, and highly
sexual movie. Friedkin is a talented director who gave the world THE
FRENCH CONNECTION, THE EXORCIST, and TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA among
others. This time he is teamed up with controversial writer Joe
Eszterhas. Eszterhas, whose interviews about the writing of SHOWGIRLS,
make him sound like an idiot, nevertheless has written some movies of
great tension and suspense including JAGGED EDGE and BASIC INSTINCT.
As the show unfolds, we see a darkly lit room filled with African
masks. The intense and effective music (James Horner) blasts out at
the audience with a piano playing all those keys down in the low
register. The editing (Augie Hess) adds to the tension as the cuts
jump from one ominous image to another. We have seen nothing actually
scary, and yet we are already on the edge of our seats due to the
lavish and haunting sets (Alex Tavoularis).
Soon people begin to appear on the set. We have a rich male
corpse who was killed in some sex-related incident. Assistant DA David
Corelli (David Caruso) is on the case. His buddies say how lucky he is
since the election is next year and apparently he has been eyeing his
One of the best parts of the movie is that it was shot on location
in San Francisco. You get to see a lot of famous and beautiful sights
plus there is no better place in the world than the hills of the San
Francisco to stage long car chases. The second scene of the movie is
shot in The Palace Hotel at the annual Black and White Ball. We get
the see the famous large Pied Piper painting by Maxfield Parish, one of
my favorite artists.
At the ball Corelli runs into his to his ex-girlfriend, Trina
Gavin (Linda Fiorentino), whom he still has the hots for. She is
accompanied by her extremely wealthy lawyer husband, Matt Gavin (Chazz
Palminteri), who is a sports buddy of Corelli's. Trina casually
mentions that she was alone at the dead man's house earlier in the day.
Later, in a further complication, we find out that the dead man had
pictures in his safe of the Governor of California (Richard Crenna) in
compromising positions with a hooker.
Eszterhas's script then leads the viewer on a chase for who killed
the dead man. As the story develops, it gets much more complex which I
liked a lot. The dialog on the other hand and the character
development left a lot to be desired. The lawyer Matt is a poorly
constructed character that gave Palminteri nothing to do. David and
Trina are quite interesting characters, especially Trina, and yet, I
was disappointed. Perhaps it was because the trailers for the movie
were so excellent and perhaps it was because Fiorentino is one of the
most interesting actress in the movies today. She has dominated most
of her movies, don't miss for example, THE LAST SEDUCTION. She has a
film presence unlike any other actress. Here, however, Friedkin keeps
throttling her for some reason, but she is best in her usual take no
prisoners approach to acting. One sad part of the movie is that the
great actor Richard Crenna is given a part so tiny that a few snips of
the editor's scissors, and he would have had no scenes at all.
The sound editing is way off. The background noise is fine and
highly dramatic when there are no voices, but when someone speaks it is
frequently hard to hear them due to pumped up music and sound effects.
The cinematographer (Andrzej Bartkowiak), on the other hand, did a
great job of shooting at just the right eerie light level and zooming
in for close-ups at the right time to heighten the tension.
A high point of the show, even if it does go on a bit too long, is
one great car chase scene. I can not think of another movie where I
enjoyed a car chase more. The cars go up higher in the air, than any I
have ever seen. The chase ends in a great visual through the bright
colors of a Chinatown parade. The bad car itself is cool with smoked
glass and a look reminiscent of the Batmobile.
If you like to try to guess the endings of mysteries and are good
at it, you will probably get this one basically right. I do not enjoy
guessing. I like to let the show unfold and try not to figure it out.
For me, the complexity of the plot, the tension, the excellent craft in
all parts of the movie (camera, lighting, sets, etc.), and the presence
of Fiorentino made the show work for me. On the other hand, there is
not a single memorable line in the movie.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes