Double Jeopardy (film)
|Directed by||Bruce Beresford|
|Produced by||Leonard Goldberg|
|Written by||David Weisberg
Tommy Lee Jones
|Music by||Normand Corbeil|
|Editing by||Mark Warner|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||September 24, 1999|
|Running time||105 min.|
|Country||United States / Canada|
Double Jeopardy is a 1999 thriller film directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones and Bruce Greenwood. The film is about a woman who is framed for the murder of her husband.
Nick Parsons (Bruce Greenwood) and his wife Elizabeth (Ashley Judd), known as Libby, wealthy residents of Whidbey Island, Washington, borrow a friend's yacht and set off sailing for the weekend. After a session of love making, Libby falls asleep. She wakes to find her husband missing and blood all over her hands, clothes, legs, and the boat's floors. A Coast Guard vessel appears and Libby is spotted holding a bloody knife she found lying on the deck. She is arrested, humiliated in the media, tried, and convicted of her husband's murder.
Libby asks her best friend, Angela Green (Annabeth Gish), to look after her 4-year-old son, Matty (Benjamin Weir), for the duration of her prison sentence. On a phone call with Matty from prison, Libby hears a door open in the background, then Matty exclaims, "Daddy!" right before the line goes dead.
Libby realizes that Nick possibly faked his death and framed her, leaving their son as the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy, as people convicted for murder are not allowed to collect the life insurance on their victims. After attempting (unsuccessfully) to get investigative help, she is told by a fellow inmate named Margaret (Roma Maffia) that if she were to get paroled for good behavior, she could kill Nick with impunity due to the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Libby is paroled after six years and begins searching for Nick and Matty, while living in a halfway house under the supervision of parole officer Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones). Libby violates her curfew and is caught breaking into Matty's school on Whidbey Island to try to get Angela's records, but manages to escape from Lehman and continue her search.
After discovering Angela has recently died in Colorado, Libby recognizes a Kandinsky painting in a newspaper photo. Tracing it through a dealer's database (which nearly again allows her capture by Lehman) leads her to New Orleans, where she finds Nick living a luxurious lifestyle under an assumed name, Jonathan Devereaux.
Libby confronts him after making a winning bid of $10,000 on him at a bachelor's auction. She demands he return Matty in exchange for her silence about his real identity. Nick agrees to bring Matty to a meeting in a cemetery. There, while a band at a funeral plays the St. James Infirmary Blues in the background, he uses a decoy boy to distract Libby, knocks her unconscious, and locks her in a casket inside a mausoleum. Using a .38 caliber handgun she had snatched from Lehman, Libby manages to shoot the hinges off the lid of the casket and escape the mausoleum by throwing a flower vase through a stained glass window.
While tracking Libby in New Orleans, Lehman himself becomes suspicious of Nick's death and begins to believe Libby's story, based on the clues uncovered in his search. He finds a picture of a different Nicholas Parsons when searching the Washington State DMV records to prove his suspicions, and later confirms them when he uncovers six DMV records under that name, including Nick's DMV application and photograph. After seemingly capturing Libby later in the city, the two actually team up. Lehman visits Nick in his office under the pretense of asking for money to keep his identity secret. He records a remark by Nick that he had murdered his wife, the only witness to his true past. Libby enters, holding Nick at gunpoint. Nick is given a choice of surrendering to the authorities or getting shot by his vengeful ex-wife, whom he believes would go free for this deed because of double jeopardy.
Nick responds with violence. In the ensuing melee, Nick pulls out a hidden gun, shoots Lehman, and fires away at Libby. Lehman manages to bring Nick down before Nick can shoot Libby. Nick gets the upper hand, but before he can kill the wounded parole officer, Libby shoots him dead.
Lehman promises to help Libby get fully pardoned. Together, they travel to Matty's boarding school in Georgia, where he is playing soccer. Matty (Spencer Treat Clark), now eleven years old, recognizes his mother and they embrace.
- Tommy Lee Jones as Travis Lehman
- Ashley Judd as Libby Parsons
- Bruce Greenwood as Nick Parsons/Simon Ryder/Jonathan Devereaux
- Annabeth Gish as Angie Green/Angie Ryder
- Roma Maffia as Margaret Skolowski
- Jay Brazeau as Bobby Long
- Michael Gaston as Cutter
- Daniel Lapaine as Handsome Internet Expert
- Dave Hager as Jim Mangold
- Davenia McFadden as Evelyn Lake
- Betsy Brantley as Prosecutor
Jodie Foster was originally attached to star in the film as Libby Parsons after Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan and Brooke Shields all declined the role, and Bruce Beresford met with her several times about the script:
"She said to me once, when we were having . . .not an argument, we had different points of view over something, and she said, 'We'll have to do it my way, I'm afraid.' And I said, 'Why, Jodie?' And she said, 'Because I'm so intelligent. I'm such an intelligent person that there is no point in disagreeing with me because I'm always right.' I thought she was joking, but she wasn't! [laughs] She had this extraordinary opinion of her own IQ."
However, Foster then became pregnant so Ashley Judd stepped in. Greg Kinnear was offered the part of Nick Parsons, but he passed and Bruce Greenwood eventually took over. According to Beresford, Robert Benton did an uncredited ten day rewrite shortly before production began.
Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz criticized the movie for allegedly misrepresenting the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment. "There are two separate incidents," Dershowitz claims. "She was falsely accused the first time. And maybe she can sue for that or get some credit. But then she committed an entirely separate or at least planned to commit an entirely separate crime the second time. And there's just no defense of double jeopardy for doing it the second time."
More drastically, as the Clause was interpreted by the Supreme Court in Heath v. Alabama (1985), a conviction in Washington state court would not bar a prosecution in federal or Louisiana state court, even for an identical offense.
VHS and DVD release
Double Jeopardy was released on VHS and DVD by Paramount Home Video on February 22, 2000. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette and its original theatrical trailer. It is presented in its original 2.35:1 widescreen format.
The film received mixed to generally negative reviews. It is rated 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, as its "consensus" states: "A talented cast fails to save this unremarkable thriller." Roger Ebert gives the film two and a half stars out of four, indicating a lukewarm reception.
However, some critics reacted to this film with positive reviews. Leonard Maltin gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "slick entertainment". Mick LaSalle from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the film is a "well-acted diversion, directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) with an intelligent grasp of the moment-to-moment emotion". For her performance in the film Ashley Judd won Favorite Actress at the 6th Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.
The film was a box office success, grossing $116 million domestically and $61 million overseas.
- Andrew L. Urban, BERESFORD, BRUCE : DOUBLE JEOPARDY, Urban Cinesfile accessed 11 November 2012
- "Alan Dershowitz Discusses Double Jeopardy Clause in Fifth Amendment". October 5, 1999.
- George C. Thomas III, When Constitutional Worlds Collide: Resurrecting the Framers' Bill of Rights and Criminal Procedure, 100 Mich. L. Rev. 154, 158 n.49 (2001).
- Double Jeopardy. Rotten Tomatoes.
- Ebert, Roger. Double Jeopardy. Sep. 24. 1999.
- LaSalle, Mick. Criminally Good. San Francisco Chronicle. September 24, 1999
- "Blockbuster Entertainment Award winners". Variety (magazine). May 9, 2000. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Double Jeopardy. Box Office Mojo.
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