REVIEW: THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

CAST

Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Annabella Sciorra (Jungle Fever)
Matt McCoy (Snapdragon)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Madeline Zima (Heroes)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)

Claire Bartel is happily married and pregnant with her second child. At a routine check-up, she is sexually molested by her new obstetrician, Dr. Victor Mott. Traumatized, she tells her husband Michael, who encourages her to report him to the state medical board. Her initial accusation prompts four more women to come forward with similar accusations, and multiple charges are prepared against Dr. Mott by the district attorney’s office. Upon seeing a news report about the charges, Dr. Mott commits suicide to avoid being arrested and tried. Later, Dr. Mott’s pregnant widow is told by her lawyers that her husband’s assets have been frozen because of the lawsuits and that she will lose her luxurious home. Mrs. Mott goes into early labor after fainting from the stressful news her lawyer gives her, causing her to lose her baby and, after hemorrhaging, is given an emergency hysterectomy. While recovering in the hospital, she sees a news story featuring Claire as the woman who went to the state medical board, leading Mrs. Mott to swear vengeance.Claire eventually gives birth to a boy named Joey, and, looking for a nanny, hires Mrs. Mott under the alias “Peyton Flanders”. Mrs. Mott begins waging a campaign to undermine Claire. She begins frequently breastfeeding Joey in secret, effectively brainwashing him to believe that Mott is his mother (which causes him to reject Claire, as he no longer take Claire’s milk) and encourages her daughter Emma to keep secrets from her mother and tries to turn her against Claire. She also secretly destroys Michael’s office proposal. Knowing that Claire’s close friend Marlene had been Michael’s ex-girlfriend before he married Claire, Mrs. Mott also suggests to Michael that he arrange a surprise party for Claire, leading Marlene and Michael to meet in secret. Claire accuses Michael of having an affair with Marlene, only to find the party-goers waiting in the next room.Solomon, an intellectually disabled handyman who has been assisting the Bartels, discovers Mrs. Mott breastfeeding Joey. Mrs. Mott then plants a pair of Emma’s panties in Solomon’s toolbox, leading Claire to fire him. Emma tells Claire that Solomon never did anything to her, but Claire refuses to believe Emma, causing her to turn against her mother as Mrs. Mott had planned. Unknown to the family, except for Emma, Solomon begins to keep a watchful eye over them. Claire begins to doubt “Peyton” and tells Michael so. Mrs. Mott overhears, then sets a trap for Claire in the greenhouse. Meanwhile, Marlene finds out Mrs. Mott’s identity; Marlene plans to warn Claire, but Mrs. Mott tricks her into going into the greenhouse, where she is killed by the falling glass. Mrs. Mott, who knows that Claire suffers from asthma, empties all of her inhalers. When Claire finds Marlene’s body, she has an asthma attack and is briefly hospitalized. As Michael is distraught over Marlene’s death and his wife’s condition, Mrs. Mott, wearing a sheer white nightgown, attempts to seduce him; he rejects her advances.Claire eventually uncovers the truth about Mrs. Mott, confronts her, and reveals the truth about “Peyton” to Michael as Mrs. Mott claims that she and Michael are having an affair. Michael denies this claim and kicks Mrs. Mott out. Claire then tells Michael to call the police as she realizes that Mrs. Mott rigged the greenhouse to kill her and not Marlene. Michael tells Claire to get Emma and Joey so that they can head to a hotel to be safe.Later, Mrs. Mott breaks into the house and lures Michael down to the basement where she knocks him down the stairs and breaks his legs with a shovel. Mrs. Mott then attempts to take Emma and Joey, but after seeing Mrs. Mott assault her mother, Emma locks Mrs. Mott in the nursery. Mrs. Mott escapes, and hears Joey in the attic. She enters and sees Solomon aiding the children’s escape. Claire enters and Mrs. Mott attempts to kill her, but stops after Claire appears to be having another asthma attack, allowing Mrs. Mott to mock her. As Mrs. Mott tries to take Joey, Claire gets back up, having faked her asthma attack, and pushes Mrs. Mott out of the window, impaling her on the picket fence and killing her. Touched at how Solomon risked his life to protect her family, Claire welcomes him back into their lives as they leave the attic while the police and paramedics arrive at the house.maxresdefaultThis is an involving film. Once you are into it, you’re hooked and the 100-plus minutes go by pretty fast. DeMornay is so effective in her role you just can’t wait to see her exposed for who she is and justice done to her. I did think Sciorra’s character would have needed more to go on to come to the right conclusion near the end, but, usually every film has some question marks regarding credibility. The violent, ending scene is very suspenseful and well- done.

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REVIEW: RISKY BUSINESS

CAST

Tom Cruise (The Mummy)
Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Nicholas Pryor (Collateral Damage)
Janet Carroll (The Omega Code)
Richard Masur (IT)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Bronson Pinchot (Lois & Clark)
Shera Danese (Serpico)
Raphael Sbarge (Murder In The First)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III)

Joel Goodson is a high-achieving high school student who lives with his wealthy parents in the North Shore area of Chicago. His father wants him to attend Princeton University, his alma mater, so Joel participates in Future Enterprisers, an extracurricular activity in which students work in teams to create small businesses. When his parents go away on a trip, Joel’s friend, Miles, convinces him to take advantage of his newfound freedom to have some fun. On the first night, he raids the liquor cabinet, plays the stereo loudly, and dances around the living room in his underwear and pink dress shirt to “Old Time Rock and Roll”. The following day, Miles calls a call girl named Jackie on Joel’s behalf. Jackie turns out to be a tall, masculine transvestite. Joel pays Jackie to go away, but before she leaves, she gives Joel the number for Lana, another prostitute. That night, Joel is unable to sleep and hesitantly calls Lana. She turns out to be a gorgeous blonde and they have sex all night.Lana asks Joel for $300 for her services. He goes to the bank, but when he returns, Lana is gone, along with his mother’s expensive Steuben glass egg. Joel finds Lana and demands the egg back, but they are interrupted by Lana’s pimp Guido, who pulls a gun. While in his father’s Porsche 928, Joel is chased by Guido, but eventually escapes. Lana tells Joel that the egg is with the rest of her stuff at Guido’s. Joel lets Lana stay at his house while he goes to school. When he returns, his friends are over, and Lana has invited another prostitute Vicki to stay, but Joel rejects the idea. That night, Joel, Lana, Vicki, and Joel’s friend Barry go out. They get stoned, and while Vicky and Barry wander away, Joel and Lana talk. Lana takes exception to something Joel says and leaves. While retrieving her purse from Joel’s car, she moves the shifter out of gear. Moments later, the car rolls down the hill and onto a pier, despite Joel’s futile attempt to stop it. The pier collapses, dumping the Porsche into Lake Michigan.When Joel takes the car to a repair shop, he is horrified to learn how much it will cost to fix it. He and Lana later decide to turn his parents’ house into a brothel for a night; Joel’s share of the profits will pay for the car repairs. The party is a huge success; the house is packed with Joel’s friends and classmates and Lana’s co-workers. However, the recruiter from Princeton, Rutherford chooses that night to interview Joel for admission to Princeton. The interview is plagued by interruptions, and Rutherford is unimpressed by Joel’s resume. Afterwards, he stays at the party and becomes acquainted with Lana’s friends. After the party, Joel and Lana go and have sex on the Chicago ‘L’.The next morning, Joel finds his house has been burgled. When he tries to call Lana, Guido answers; he tells Joel that he will let Joel buy back his furniture. Fortunately, Joel and his friends manage to get everything moved back in just as his parents walk in, though his mother notices a crack in her egg. Later, Joel’s father congratulates him; the interviewer was very impressed and has indicated Joel will be accepted into Princeton. Joel meets Lana at a restaurant, and they speculate about their future. She tells him that she wants to keep on seeing him; he jokes that it will cost her.An instant classic upon release that still holds up over 20 years later.

REVIEW: AMERICAN PIE: REUNION

CAST

Jason Biggs (Boys and Girls)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Chris Klein (Election)
Thomas Ian Nicholas (Halloween: Resurrection)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Dad)
Seann William Scott (Goon)
Tara Reid (Urban Legend)
Mena Suvari (Loser)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Eugene Levy (Cheaper By The Dozen 2)
Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls)
Natasha Lyonne (Comic Book Villains)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Ali Cobrin (Bad Neighbors)
Katrina Bowden (Scary Movie 5)
Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted)
Chuck Hittinger (Boogeyman 3)
Shannon Elizabeth (Scary Movie)
Chris Owen (The Mist)
Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Justin Isfeld (Fraternity House)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Vik Sahay (Chuck)
Neil Patrick Harris (A Series of Unfortnate Events)
Molly Cheek (Drag Me To Hell)

Thirteen years after graduating from high school, Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Chris “Oz” Ostreicher (Chris Klein), Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) are well-established in their lives and careers. Jim lives in the Chicago area and is still married to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and now has a two-year-old son, Evan. Since the birth of their son, Jim and Michelle’s sex life has deteriorated. Oz is an NFL sportscaster living in Los Angeles with his supermodel girlfriend Mia (Katrina Bowden). Kevin is married to Ellie and works from home as an architect. Finch tells his friends that he has been travelling the world, and still searching for his one true love. Stifler works as a temp at an investment firm, where he is also the victim of humiliating verbal abuse by his cold-hearted employer.Former classmate John (John Cho), one half of the ‘MILF’ duo, organizes a Class of 1999 high school reunion in East Great Falls. Jim and Michelle return to Jim’s old home, where his father Noah (Eugene Levy) is now a widower. Jim encounters his neighbor Kara (Ali Cobrin), whom he used to babysit and who is soon to turn 18. Jim meets Oz, Kevin, and Finch at a bar, where they meet Selena Vega (Dania Ramirez), Michelle’s best friend from band. Stifler appears unexpectedly, and joins them for weekend activities.The next day, the group goes to the beach. Oz meets his high school girlfriend, Heather (Mena Suvari), who is dating a cardiologist named Ron (Jay Harrington), and Kevin reconnects with Vicky (Tara Reid). The guys have an altercation with Kara’s boyfriend, A.J., (Chuck Hittinger) and his friends, which ends with Stifler defecating in their beer cooler and destroying their jet skis. That night, most of the group go to the falls and find a high school party celebrating Kara’s birthday. Finch and Selena reconnect, and they fall in love. Kara gets drunk; Jim drives her home, and she tries to seduce him. They are discovered by John, who simply mistakes Kara for Michelle. Oz, Finch, and Stifler help Jim return Kara to her parents’ home, but A.J. spots them. Kevin wakes up hungover next to Vicky and assumes they had sex.Jim and Michelle attend a party thrown by Stifler, hoping to recreate their prom night, and bring Noah along. Noah gets drunk and encounters Stifler’s mother Jeanine (Jennifer Coolidge) for the first time. Kevin confronts Vicky about the night before, but she insists there was no sex. Mia takes ecstasy, and Ron humiliates Oz. A newly sympathetic Heather comforts Oz, and they reconcile. They are interrupted by Mia, who starts a fight with Heather. Stifler performs oral sex on a former classmate named “Long Lips” Loni hoping she would return the favor, only to strike out. By this point in the story, Jim has told Kara that he does not care about her. A fight ensues between A.J. and his gang against Jim and his friends, which is disrupted by police. But the police only arrest Finch for stealing a motorcycle, which Stifler finds amusing. Exasperated by Stifler’s immaturity, the guys blast him, and finally admit that they did not want him to ruin things like he always does. Distraught, Stifler ends the party.Mia leaves Oz, Stifler decides to skip the reunion, and Michelle goes to her grandmother’s. At the reunion, Finch admits that he is an assistant manager at Staples and stole the motorcycle from his boss when he did not receive a raise that was promised. The boys apologize to Stifler at his place of work, and insist that he is their friend saying “he is their asshole”; without him, high school would not have been any fun. Stifler is uplifted by this and quits his job – but not before standing up to his patronizing boss – and attends the reunion. Kevin reconciles with Vicky. Finch makes amends with Selena for lying, and they have sex in the bathroom – but not before a premonition of something vague but bad happening, which is that Stifler is having sex with his mother, as revenge on him for having sex with Stifler’s mother. Oz reunites with Heather (a result of Stifler beating up Ron), and Jim reconciles with Michelle. Jessica (Natasha Lyonne) reveals that she is a lesbian, and with Stifler’s help, Sherman (Chris Owen) hooks up with Loni. Stifler is asked to be a party planner for a wedding for his former lacrosse teammates.He also meets Finch’s mother Rachel (Rebecca De Mornay) who intrigues Stifler by telling him she wishes her son were more into sports. After Rachel makes a brazen sexual pass at Stifler using lacrosse equipment-related innuendos, Rachel and Stifler proceed to have sex on the lacrosse field, while Rachel loudly and passionately agrees with Stifler’s proclamations about his manliness. John is reunited with his estranged buddy, Justin (Justin Isfeld) (MILF Guy #1) and they watch Stifler having sex with Finch’s mom while chanting “MILF! MILF! MILF!”. The next morning, Jim and Kara share a tender moment while apologizing to each other for their behavior. Oz plans to stay in town with Heather, Finch plans a trip with Selena to Europe, and Stifler drops subtle hints about sleeping with Finch’s mom. Kevin proposes a pact for them to reunite once a year. They all agree and make a toast as the franchise’s theme song (“Laid”) plays. As the credits roll, Stifler says, “I fucked Finch’s mom!” in a half-whisper, leaving Finch disgusted. In a mid-credits scene, Noah Levenstein receives sexual gratification from Stifler’s Mom at a movie theatre.There a couple new characters but none of them are annoying or take up too much of the story, all those parts are well cast. Jim’s Dad and Stifler’s Mom are hilarious on screen together. Jim’s Dad is the funniest he has ever been- but again- not in an over the top way. All in all, it’s a well-written, well-rounded film with some good plot twists. Tons of references too the old films. Literally, all of the obscure characters from the first two make an appearance at some point.

 

REVIEW: WEDDING CRASHERS

CAST

Owen Wilson (Zoolander)
Vince Vaughn (Swingers)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes)
Isla FIsher (Grimsby)
Jane Seymour (Smallville)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Patch Adams)
Keir O’Donnell (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Ron Canada (Ted 2)
Jennifer Alden (Surrogates)
Dwight Yoakam (Panic Room)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)
Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
David Conrad (Agents of SHIELD)
Geoff Stults (The Finder)

John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are divorce mediators in Washington D.C. who “crash” wedding parties to meet and bed women. At the end of a season of successful crashes, Jeremy takes John to a wedding for the daughter of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, William Cleary (Christopher Walken). Once inside, the pair set their sights on Cleary’s other daughters, Gloria (Isla Fisher) and Claire (Rachel McAdams). Jeremy ends up having sex with Gloria on a nearby beach during the reception. Gloria is possessive and quickly becomes obsessed with Jeremy, and Jeremy urges John to escape the reception with him.Meanwhile, John attempts to court Claire, the maid of honor, but is interrupted by her hotheaded boyfriend, Sack Lodge (Bradley Cooper), who is unfaithful and disrespectful behind her back. When Gloria invites Jeremy and John to an extended weekend party at their family compound, John overrules Jeremy to accept and get closer to Claire. John and Jeremy become acquainted with the Clearys at their home: the Secretary’s wife (Jane Seymour) sexually harasses John; Gloria’s brother Todd (Keir O’Donnell) tries to seduce Jeremy during the night; Gloria continues to lavish unwanted sexual attention on Jeremy; and Sack repeatedly injures Jeremy during a game of touch football. At dinner, John spikes Sack’s wine with eye-drops to make him sick and get more time to connect with Claire.John and Claire continue to bond the next day on a sailing trip. The suspicious Sack takes the men on a hunting trip, where Jeremy is shot in the buttocks. While he recovers, John and Claire go on a bike ride to a secluded beach. Claire finally admits she isn’t sure how she feels about Sack and ends up kissing John passionately. Meanwhile, Gloria tends to Jeremy’s wounds and reveals to him that she is not as innocent or inexperienced as she initially let on. Jeremy realizes that he himself has been played and that he may be in love with Gloria.Ready to confess everything to Claire to convince her not to marry Sack, John is interrupted by Jeremy being chased out of the house: Sack has investigated and revealed John and Jeremy’s identities to the family. Betrayed, Claire turns away from John and the Secretary tells them to leave. Over the following months, John attempts to reach Claire but she refuses to see him. He attempts to crash Claire and Sack’s engagement party but is caught and beaten by Sack. Confronting Jeremy about abandoning him, he learns that Jeremy has secretly continued his relationship with Gloria. Betrayed, John spirals into depression, crashing weddings alone and becoming nihilistic and suicidal. Meanwhile, as Claire and Sack plan their wedding, Claire’s doubts grow. Jeremy proposes to Gloria and tries to ask John to be his best man, but a depressed John refuses.936full-wedding-crashers-screenshot1John visits Jeremy’s former wedding crashing mentor, Chazz Reinhold (an uncredited Will Ferrell), who convinces him to crash a funeral. While there, he reconsiders his belief in love and marriage and rushes to Jeremy’s wedding. John joins the wedding mid-ceremony to Jeremy’s delight, but Claire is upset by his appearance, prompting John to profess his love to her and his regret for his past behavior in front of the congregation. Sack interrupts, but Claire finally tells him that she can’t marry him. Sack tries to attack John, but Jeremy intervenes to knock him out, and John and Claire kiss. After the wedding, the two couples drive away from the ceremony together, discussing crashing another wedding together, apparently skipping Jeremy’s own wedding reception.wedding_crashers

I admit Wedding Crashers is far from perfect, at time situations seem too contrived, the nudity is laughably gratuitous, and Claire’s evil fiancée Sack (Bradley Cooper) is an almost too heavy-handed device to make Wilson look good. But if you can look past all that, and simply accept it for what it is, you’re left with a very funny film.

REVIEW: IDENTITY

CAST
John Cusack (2012)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Amanda Peet (The Ex)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Broden Chronicles)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Jake Busey (Fast Sofa)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
A convict introduced as “Malcolm Rivers”—who was abandoned as a child at a motel by his prostitute mother—awaits execution for several vicious murders that took place at an apartment building. Malcolm’s psychiatrist, Dr. Mallick, has discovered his journal that may explain why he committed the murders. With this late evidence brought forth, a new hearing takes place.
Meanwhile, ten strangers find themselves stranded in the middle of a torrential rainstorm at a remote Nevada motel, run by Larry Washington. The group consists of an ex-cop, now limousine driver, Ed Dakota; Caroline Suzanne, an actress popular in the 1980s; Officer Rhodes, who is transporting serial killer Robert Maine; Paris Nevada, a prostitute; newlyweds Lou and Ginny Isiana; and the York family, George and Alice, and mute 9-year-old son Timmy. The Yorks are in crisis because Alice has been struck by Ed’s car. With both ends of the road completely flooded, the group prepares to spend the night. However, they quickly find there is an unknown murderer present, killing off each of the guests. Caroline is the first to be killed. Ed, finding her severed head in a clothes dryer, thinks Maine killed her. When they check the convict, they discover he has escaped.
All the others become worried, and Ginny flees in terror to her room. Her husband Lou chases after her but is also murdered. Maine runs through the hills, only to be dumbfounded when he finds himself back at the motel. He enters the diner, where Ed and Rhodes jump and beat him into unconsciousness, putting Larry on guard duty. However, Maine is later found dead. Paris discovers a dead body in Larry’s freezer, which is revealed to be the real hotel manager. Larry attempts to escape in his truck, claiming he did not kill anybody; he accidentally runs over George, killing him.
Each body is accompanied by a numbered room key, the order of which suggests a countdown. The survivors tie Larry up, and as he tells them his story the others start to believe he really did not kill anyone. Subsequently, Alice is discovered to have died from her injuries. Ginny and Timmy die when their car blows up, but their bodies are nowhere to be found. The remaining four discover that all the bodies have disappeared and that all ten share the same birthday; Ed realizes that all ten names are linked to US states (Caroline being the Carolinas, Lou Isiana being Louisiana, etc.). Paris discovers that Rhodes is actually a convict as well; he killed the corrections officer transporting him and Maine cross state and assumed the cop’s identity. Rhodes attempts to kill Paris, but she is saved by Larry, who hits Rhodes with a fire extinguisher, only to be shot and killed by him.
Back at the hearing, the contents of Malcolm’s journal are revealed, indicating Malcolm suffers from an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder, harboring ten distinct personalities. Mallick is able to bring forth one of Malcolm’s personalities: Ed – all of the events happening at the motel are concurrently occurring inside Malcolm’s mind, and each one of Malcolm’s personalities is represented by one person at the motel. Mallick explains to “Ed” that the events at the motel are a result of treatment Malcolm is receiving: the killings at the motel are Malcolm’s mental attempts to eliminate his nine excess personalities. Mallick further gives “Ed” the mission of making sure that the hostile personality (i.e., the one responsible for Malcolm’s committing the crimes for which he is being tried) is eliminated to prevent Malcolm from being executed.
Back in the motel setting, Ed believes Rhodes is the murderer, and the two shoot each other to death, leaving only Paris alive. When Mallick demonstrates that the homicidal personality is dead, the Judge decides to place Malcolm in a mental institution under Mallick’s care. In the final scene, Malcolm is driven in a van, along with Mallick to the institution. In Malcolm’s mind, Paris has driven away from the motel to her hometown in Frostproof, Florida. As she tends an orange grove, she discovers the room 1 motel key, and finds Timmy behind her. Timmy, the true homicidal personality, had orchestrated all the deaths at the motel, and made it appear that he had been killed as well; he finishes his task by killing Paris. Now driven only by Timmy, Malcolm strangles Mallick and then attacks the orderlies and the van driver, forcing the van off the side of the road.
The plot is designed to keep you guessing, as each plot twist throws up another series of questions and seemingly inexplicable situations. What is the relevance of the court case? How come keys are found by each body as the death toll mounts? Who is innocent and who is guilty? Here is a thriller that not only buckles the formula, but almost completely demolishes it. Each actor does a superb job of maintaining the suspense.

REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST
Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Mike Colter (Ringer)
Rachael Taylor (Transformers)
Erin Moriarty (The Watch)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Wil Traval (Once Upon a Time)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Susie Abromeit (Sex Drive)
Robin Weigert (Lost)
Kieran Mulcare (The Following)
Clarke Peters (John Wick)
Colby Minifie (Nurse Jackie)
Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Michael Siberry (Highlander: The Series)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil TV)
jessica jones poster
Marvel’s Jessica Jones announces its noir intentions from the get-go. From the slinky music and impressionistic animation of the opening credits, there’s no doubt what kind of series this is going to be, and the (naturally) hard-boiled narration of series star Krysten Ritter sets the stage for the dark, sardonic world she occupies. Thankfully, the narration can best be described as “unobtrusive.” It’s there because that’s how noir works, but the show is otherwise self-aware enough not to cling to the expectations of its genre. Sure, Jessica works behind a glass door with “Alias Investigations” typewritten across it, but this also the type of noir in which Jessica asks someone why they thinks she lives alone, and their response is, “Because people don’t like you?”
Created by Melissa Rosenberg (who put in time on shows as varied as Dexter, Birds Of Prey, and Party Of Five in addition to writing all five Twilight movies), Jessica Jones avoids a villain-of-the-week structure by having Jessica essentially work on the same case for the duration of the first season. There’s no onslaught of new superpowered (or “gifted,” in the parlance of the show) opponents for the heroine to face each episode; in fact, despite her super strength and impressive vertical leap, Jessica would strongly object to being called a heroine at all. Her brief attempt to use her powers for good resulted in her being taken under the sway of Kilgrave (David Tennant), whose mind control tactics caused her to commit a terrible crime that the show slowly teases out.
It’s his apparent return that kick-starts the action on the show. A missing college co-ed case turns out to be more complicated than Jessica initially assumes, and forces her to reconsider her distaste for heroism. Reasonably content to drink her way through her PTSD and take PI cases from high-powered attorney Jeryn Hogarth (played with admirable steely ferocity by Carrie-Anne Moss, long marooned after the Matrix movies), Jessica is soon faced with the prospect of her own responsibility for taking care of Kilgrave.
Along her ambivalent path towards heroism, she looks out for her junkie neighbor (Eka Darville), flirts with the handsome Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and slowly reconnects with her foster sister, Trish (Rachael Taylor). The show really starts to cook once Jessica and Trish start working together on the Kilgrave case. Trish, a former child star and current celebrity radio show host, is the only one who knows everything that happened to Jessica. Initially introduced as the disapproving straight arrow friend, she’s quickly revealed to be something much more interesting, despite her lack of superpowers. She’s also positioned as the moral center of the show, which proves to be vital for Jessica, who’s unsurprisingly given to a bleak pessimism.
It should be said: Jessica Jones is a deeply feminist show, all the way down to its depiction of sex, which is pointedly empowering for the women. More than that, its central conflict is its lead character struggling to maintain her agency against an abusive man. All the people in positions of power (minus Kilgrave) are women, and the story of the missing co-ed extends beyond the mystery of her disappearance. Trish is by no means content to sit on the sidelines of the action, and Hogarth seems to spend all of her time conducting important business meetings in impeccably tailored dresses and confidently seducing her assistant. Moss has a way with a withering putdown, though Ritter gets her fair share, even if the show doesn’t take full advantage of her comedic side. She’s compelling as Jessica. The slow build toward a confrontation between Kilgrave and Jessica is tensely effective, hanging over everything else she does. Tennant’s face is barely seen on camera for the first couple of episodes, but rather than make his absence seem pointed, the tactic works as a way to build up Jessica’s dread about his return.
While the series clearly takes place in the same universe as Daredevil, complete with brutal violence and punches that really land, the fight scenes themselves have a very different feel. Jessica’s too strong to lose fistfights, and she partakes in them with a weary sense of resignation that people are wasting her time trying to resolve problems this way. All of this adds up to a show that is very certain of its voice and tone. Streets are always covered with a foot of grimy snow, Jessica doesn’t own a garment that doesn’t have a hole or three in it, and every drawer or cabinet contains a bottle of booze or a pistol. A Must See