Monday, 25 February 2013

Jennifer 8 - film review

Jennifer 8 is a 1992 thriller that fell a long way short of being a box office smash hit. Yet I've watched it twice now, some years apart, and a recent second viewing confirmed my opinion that it is under-estimated, and certainly better than a good many films covering similar ground. In particular, it's a film about a serial killer, but the focus is not on gore or elaborate and improbable 'signatures', but rather on a cop's hunt for the killer and his burning desire to protect a woman whom he thinks will be the next victim.

Andy Garcia plays John Berlin, whose marriage has broken up and whose career has stalled. He moves to Eureka, a place which is portrayed in a vivid and memorable way, though I'm certainly not tempted to emigrate there. Working with an old friend, Ross at a scrap heap where a corpse has been found, he stumbles on a woman's hand, and some smart detective work causes him to think that it belongs to someone who has fallen victim to a recidivist killer. But he can't find anyone else who shares his view.

He believes that the murderer nurses a grudge against blind woman, and when he meets the latest victim's friend, the blind Helena (Una Thurman) he fears that, because she has met the killer and is therefore a potential witness, even though she could not see the man, her life is at risk. However, an attempt to catch the killer goes disastrously wrong. All the evidence available to his colleagues suggests that Berlin is not the hero, but a villain.

Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, this film does its best to avoid the formulaic. Garcia and Thurman are very good, and the cold, fog and rain that envelop Eureka add to the atmosphere if not the town's tourist appeal. There's one very good red herring, and enough variation of pace to keep the viewer interested. Well worth watching.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for your review. I've seen Garcia in a few roles I really liked. I admit I didn't see this when it first came out, mostly because of its serial-killer thing (that motif has to be done very well to get my interest). I'm glad you found this a cut above.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I thought this one was really under-appreciated when it came out. Apparently it did have quite a lot of post-production hassles (the John Malkovich role was originally much bigger for instance) but it still tells a clever story well with stronger than average characterisation too.

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks. On my travels at present with limited Internet access but will be moderating comments as I can!