review by Elias Savada, 5 March 2004 

High Hopes

Great cast. Award winning director. High hopes.

Yet…. Word on the street was not good (only one press screening to boot), plus it's been sitting around for a year and a half awaiting release. I'll chime in that yes, sadly, it's a groggy thriller. Twisted is one of those haven't-I-seen-this-before? films who fault is squarely placed on a derivative script by Sarah Thorp. This is her first big writing gig, as her film See Jane Run, which she wrote AND directed back in 2000 is still unreleased. Twisted is 96 minutes that are soggier that the watered down streets of San Francisco where Philip Kaufman pedantically directs his stars about a handful of serial killings, only to shoot himself in the foot after he slips on the wet pavement. He can't gather his troops together to overcome the screenplay's gaping holes and badly written characters. Like Humpty-Dumpty, Twisted is falling off the box-office wall, taking a quick tumble to the home-video vault. Kaufman, who helmed such masterworks as The Right Stuff and The Unbearable Lightness of Being, as well as the somewhat over-directed Rising Sun, another good cop-bad cop film that, at least, got better reviews that his current effort. Unfortunately it appears that Kaufman as left the building; seems he got lost in one of those Golden Gate fog banks. Philip, please call us when you find a good script and find your cinematic footing.

Ashley Judd is back as the damsel in distress, starring with Samuel L. Jackson (both appeared together in Joel Schumacher's A Time to Kill, which top billed recently-absent-from-the-screen Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey), and Andy Garcia. Judd takes center stage as Jessica Shepard, a newly crowned police homicide detective partnered with Mike Delmarco (Garcia). Shepard, a strong willed, too ballsy cop who can outdrink most of her compatriots, has a penchant for secretive bar hopping and playfully violent one night stands. She is in (failed) therapy over anger management issues with Dr. Melvin Frank (David Strathairn), a borderline creepy psychiatrist. Her parents, victims of a haunting murder-suicide, left her to grow up under the tutelage of John Mills (Jackson), her dad's ex-partner and now police commissioner. For a trained detective, it's incomprehensible that she can't understand why she is constantly blacking out at home after single glasses of wine from the same bottle.

The script's finger points the crimes at everyone in the theater except for the pimply kid selling popcorn at the concession stand. The killer, who is knocking off men Shepard has taken to bed, likes to extinguish cigarettes on his victims' hands. So, of course, there have to be the perfunctory remaining male cast members who blow smoke-filled McGuffins screen left and screen right: ashtrays overflowing with cancer sticks, a clicking lighter that reminded me of the clock ticking within the belly of Peter Pan's crocodile. There were so many of these tar-and-nicotine plot devices on screen that several members of the audience developed emphysema during the course of the film's screening. There's also one dreadfully horrid spooky dream sequence—death by guns in this one—badly scripted and badly wrought.

There are plenty of sour grapes, too. As the film begins, an alleged murder-rapist played by Leland Orser puts the screws to Shepard before she kicks the crap out of him. Turns out he's the slimy heir to a pharmaceutical fortune and the only male member of the cast who hasn't slept with the protagonist. He's got a hot shot lawyer, who, naturally, has had sex with you know who. Who else? Me (I wish. No, just my fantasies taking over for a minute. Hey, what red blooded guy wouldn't want a hot night with Ashley?) Oh, the other suspect is Jimmy Schmidt (Mark Pellegrino), a hot-headed street cop who wants a bigger time share with the tempestuous temper queen.

San Francisco still belongs to 'Dirty' Harry Callahan. Twisted, this town ain't big enough for the two of you. Scram!


Directed by:
Philip Kaufman

Ashley Judd
Samuel L. Jackson
Andy Garcia
David Strathairn
Russell Wong
Mark Pellegrino

Written by:
Sarah Thorp

R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult






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