While convolution in a murder mystery is nothing new, a film usually pays dividends if, in the end, a semblance of coherence can be deciphered from even the most labyrinthine of evidentiary bread crumb trails. (The exception of the eternally baffling Howard Hawks production of “The Big Sleep” whose exclusion to the rule has more to do with the entertaining distractions of Hollywood star power and breezy stylishness, along with a critical Get Out of Jail Free card for virtually any film from a filmmaker included in the Auteurist Pantheon.)
In “Jade”, William Friedkin seems to delight in his camera gliding over the ornate mise-en-scene with a fetishistic compulsiveness of impassioned lovers caressing (if the point of this tactile stroking is lost, the orgasmic crashes of James Horner’s overheated scoring may yet result in the audience absently reaching for a cigarette). It is a type of hyper-eroticized teasing that conveys a particularly disreputable surrender to the lurid when a carved banister is meant to convey all of the seductive properties of a high society escort. Yet for all of its labor intensive attempts at artfully steamy sexiness, “Jade” fails to conjure the merest seismic flutter on the sensuality meter, a crippling enough failed standard for what has been euphemistically (if not optimistically, according to the whims of studio marketers) referred to as an “erotic thriller”, but less impactful when taking into consideration that absolutely nothing which transpires in the rest of the film makes a bit of sense.
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