on June 18, 2000
This was reportedly the first film Sidney Lumet made in LA after working in New York for years. Cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak traded his usual black and brown chiaroscuro lighting for sunlit oranges and pastels. This colouring also applies to Jane Fonda who adopts a bleached blonde look to play an alcoholic has-been actress, who was "being groomed to be the new Vera Miles", suspected of murder. It is a nice touch to have made the victim a photographer of female muscle bodies, considering Fonda's fitness empire. The thriller elements of this film are undermined by an awful overbearing score by Paul Chihara and a clumsily staged climax. It works better as a drama with intimate conversations, in opposition to Lumet's tendency to have his actors yell. (Just think of Network). Both Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia work well off Fonda, Bridges in particular, though his fleshiness here makes him look more like his brother Beau. Fonda is quite brilliant in her 2 drunk scenes and her sober world-weary line readings are funny. She seems almost anorexically thin but gets a remarkeable makeover mid-way. I like the cuts in the love scene showing what makes Fonda's character drink. This is the only time the music works. I also like the line given to a friend of Fonda's when she asks for some conservative clothes - "Honey, I'm a drag queen, not a transvestite".
on April 13, 2004
Jane Fonda was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in this movie. I do not recall now who else was nominated in 1986, but I cannot imagine that they did better than she does as a fragile alcoholic who wakes up in bed with a dead man and hasn't the foggiest idea how she got there. "I once was an actress," she tells Jeff Bridges who plays an ex-cop who tries to help her. Both Bridges and Raul Julia, Fonda's exhusband and straight hairdresser-- one of the six in captivity-- both give adequate performances; but this movie belongs to Ms. Fonda. (We can only hope that she gets back into acting soon.)
The film of suspense is directed by Sidney Lumet who gave us the great movies "The Pawnbroker" and "Dog Day Afternoon."