Double Jeopardy

Memo to Hollywood producers: Find a worthy movie for Ashley Judd. Since her 1993 starring debut in Ruby in Paradise, she has mostly been unable to say good riddance to bad rubbish (Simon Birch, The Locusts). Judd is slumming again in this lame suspense yarn that could barely pass as a TV quickie without the bankable names of Judd, Tommy Lee Jones and director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy).

Judd plays Libby Parsons, a Seattle housewife and mother of a five-year-old son, whose life is so ideal that she's an accident waiting to happen. It does. When her husband, Nick (Bruce Greenwood), disappears while sailing, Libby is imprisoned for bumping him off, even though the authorities never found the body. How could they? Nick ran off with Angie (Annabeth Gish), the gal pal Libby entrusted with her little boy. Released from prison after six years of Armani deprivation and bad-hair days, Libby flees her Javert-like parole officer, Travis Lehman (Jones). She's determined to find Nick and make him pay. The Constitution is on her side, since the Fifth Amendment says that no person can be tried twice for the same crime. She's free to kill the bum. Huh?

Back before the feminist enlightenment, Double Jeopardy would have been called a "woman's picture." Now all sexes are invited to suffer. The plot defies credulity at every turn, Jones looks wrecked beyond the demands of the part, and Beresford's direction takes low-key to the level where a pulse is no longer discernible. Only Judd carries gamely on, as Libby seeks revenge and Judd gives the impression that this drivel means something. That's acting!

From The Archives Issue 823: October 14, 1999
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