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Film / Jagged Edge

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Jagged Edge is a 1985 American neo-noir courtroom drama/erotic thriller film directed by Richard Marquand, written by Joe Eszterhas, and starring Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Peter Coyote, and Robert Loggia.

When San Francisco socialite Paige Forrester is found brutally murdered at her remote beach house, the police are quick to list her husband, Jack Forrester (Bridges), as the primary suspect. He reaches out to high-profile lawyer, Teddy Barnes (Close), to defend him. As the two of them reach the end of their court case, Barnes finds herself falling for Jack's good looks and charm, while also questioning if he really is the criminal everyone is painting him as. Also involved in the case are Sam Ransom (Loggia), a private investigator and Barnes's friend; and Thomas Kransy (Coyote), the district attorney who seeks to prove Forrester guilty.

Robert Loggia's performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2018, Sony Pictures announced a remake starring Halle Berry.

Tropes in the film:

  • Arc Words: "Bitch". They're the same words the killer painted on the wall using Paige's blood, and repeated by Bobby Slade in court.
  • Amicably Divorced: Barnes and her ex-husband. The two of them are on civil terms and have no issue in sharing custody over their children.
  • Amoral Attorney: Turns out that Barnes and Ransom left Krasny's office because he had withheld evidence that proved Styles's innocence.
  • Anti-Villain: Thomas Krasny. He’s the District Attorney who has Jack Forrester arrested under the suspicion that he murdered his wife. Even though he isn’t very pleasant towards the main cast, he’s simply just doing his job and has every right to suspect Jack as the prime suspect. Zig-zagged. Some time after the trial started, it seemed like Krasny was deliberately framing Jack even though he knew about suspect's innocence. Later though, during a debate inside court's chambers, Krasny revealed his suspitions regarding the real outcome of the story. He was later proven to be right.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jack Forrester. At first he appears to be a mourning husband, but is later revealed to be a manipulator and adulterer, plus that he was indeed guilty of killing his wife.
  • Bookends: The movie starts and finishes with an assailant breaking into a woman's house, climbing the stairs—via Murderer P.O.V.—and coming upon an unsuspecting woman in bed. The difference is that the second woman expected him and is prepared to defend herself.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Downplayed with Barnes. She has since stopped working in criminal law due to a failed case, see My Greatest Failure below. However, she eventually comes around to taking up the case.
  • Disposable Woman: Paige's maid is murdered along with her, but gets nary a mention. The very fact that Jack killed her when there was no need to do so emphasizes this.
  • Empathic Environment: It's a classic "dark and stormy night" during the opening sequence when an assailant breaks into a woman's home and murders her. Very tellingly, the weather is perfectly fine when this happens again at the end of the movie, when the would-be victim is able to defend herself.
  • Evil All Along: Jack. During the climax of the film, it's revealed that Jack was in fact guilty of his wife’s murder, and had been manipulating Barnes as well as several witnesses into shifting the case into his favor.
  • Fan Disservice: During the opening scene, Paige Forrester has her shirt ripped open, exposing her full breasts. However, given that she's about to be murdered, the scene comes across as more disturbing than sexual.
  • The Ghost: Henry Styles. He’s only ever mentioned in conversation, but he plays an important role in why Barnes is so reluctant to return to being an attorney, and why she's at odds with Krasny.
  • Happily Married: Subverted. At first, Jack appears to be genuinely heartbroken over Paige's death, but it's eventually revealed that there was infidelity coming from both parties. Plus Jack really did murder her.
  • I Have This Friend: Having doubts about Jack's innocence, Teddy approaches the judge with the "hypothetical" question of what a lawyer should do if she suspects her client is guilty. (So as to avoid any accusations of improper conduct, as well as maintain Jack's confidentiality, which he's still entitled to).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sam Ransom. He's a sour, cynical private investigator with a foul mouth, but ultimately has a good heart and clearly cares about his friend, Barnes.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Krasny. Given how Jack would benefit the most from Paige's death, that's more than enough reason to suspect him of murder. And it turns out that he's ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Jack is acquitted but when Teddy tells him she found the typewriter, he goes to her house to clean up loose ends. She shoots him to death in self-defense.
  • My Greatest Failure: Barnes had previously prosecuted a man, Henry Styles, who later committed suicide in jail before evidence proving his innocence was discovered. She marks it as one of the main reasons she quit being a Lawyer.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Ransom and Barnes.
  • Private Detective: Sam Ransom.
  • Red Herring: Bobby Slade is a misogynistic creep… and is completely innocent regarding Paige's murder and the attacks on other women.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: At least one other woman was assaulted in the same manner as Paige Forrester, raising speculation that there's a serial rapist/killer on the loose and that he's the one responsible for Paige's murder, rather than Jack. It turns out that Jack himself attacked the other woman to create such doubt.
  • She Knows Too Much: Obviously, once Barnes discovered that Jack was in fact guilty, Jack came to her house with a knife, ready to kill her to keep his secret from getting out. Unfortunately for him, she was ready for him.
  • Shower of Angst: Teddy takes one after sleeping with Jack, having learned that he is indeed his wife's killer.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Ransom. There's not a single scene he's featured in that doesn't contain at least one swear-word.
  • The Sociopath: Jack. He pretends to be a grieving husband, remorseful about his infidelity, swearing his innocence the entire time he's considerably Gaslighting Teddy with anonymous notes and even attacking other women so as to cast doubt on his guilt. Kransy himself declares, "He's not a psychopath! He's an ICE MAN."
  • Twist Ending: Jack was the killer and a sociopath who manipulated Teddy into defending him in court.
  • Villain Ball: Supposedly The Chessmaster, Jack leaves the typewriter that he used to write the anonymous notes proclaiming his innocence in his house, where Teddy finds it...oddly enough he doesn't get rid of it once he's gotten away with murder!
  • We Used to Be Friends: It turns out that Barnes and Ransom both used to work for Krasny's office, but left once they learned he had withheld information that got an innocent man thrown in jail.