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Monday, February 26, 2007

Double Jeopardy

***** Double Jeopardy. Drama.

Directed by: Bruce Beresford.
Starring: Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones.

I watched this video while exercising of a period of a couple of weeks. It's one of my favorites.

Life is good for Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd)--until she wakes up on a boat, covered in blood and finds herself in prison for the murder of her husband, though his body's never found. She gives custody of their son to her best friend.

Then the friend stops bringing her son to visit, and Libby finally tracks her down on the phone...and hears her son saying "daddy." Of course, nobody will listen to her claims, so she takes the advice of a (literal) jailhouse lawyer who tells her about double jeopardy--the guarantee in the Constitution that you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. Libby does her time, gets out on parole, and sets about looking for the man who set her up.
She's thwarted and later abetted by Travis Lehman, her parole officer (Tommy Lee Jones).

I'm dubious about it working this way in real life--that even if someone faked their own death, it wouldn't give a person who'd been convicted of their murder a free license to kill them in cold blood. They couldn't be tried for the same crime twice, but I'm guessing the courts would find some way around it: maybe it wouldn't be considered the same crime--possibly "murder of X on Y date by Z method" as opposed to "murder of X on A date by B method," or maybe they'd just be charged with another offense. I can see some leniency, but not a complete free pass. ETA: Here's the Straight Dope on the subject if you're interested.

Be that as it may, it's an intriguing puzzle, but it really doesn't matter to my enjoyment of the movie. I love the premise, and the revenge story is very sweet. The character of Libby goes from fairly bland, contented wife and mother to a determined woman with a mission, and I enjoyed seeing her find her inner strength. Lehman likewise finds more in himself than he thought he had--he'd been steadily going downhill and was cynical and unsympathetic. Libby's determination inspires him to go from sticking to the black-and-white of his job to taking a stand and risking everything for what he thinks is right.

This is one of those movies where justice prevails in a way we wish it would in real life. Real life's messier, but in movies like this, the bad guy gets his just deserts in an utterly appropriate way.


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Agree with you on this review, love the movie too!
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