Friday, February 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Cute and sexy don't cut it in silly 'Twisted'

Seattle Times movie critic

OK, so you're a handsome San Francisco cop named Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia) investigating a serial killer, and your cute-as-a-button partner, Jessica Shepard (Ashley Judd, looking positively elfin), who's battling a drinking problem, admits that she's recently slept with both the victims, who've turned up floating in San Francisco Bay with cigarette burns on their bodies. So, what do you do?

Well, you make a pass at her, of course. Wouldn't anyone?

That's the kind of twisted logic on display in "Twisted," a silly thriller directed by Philip Kaufman ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "Quills"), who should know better. Along with a bespectacled Samuel L. Jackson, Judd and Garcia skulk through the movie in a series of dimly lit apartments (don't these people have any light bulbs handy?) and bars, watching bodies pile up, saying tough-cop things and occasionally kicking somebody's ass.

It's all perfectly rote and only occasionally satisfying. Judd, who's likable as always, at first seems to be playing a rather interesting character: a woman unusually comfortable with her sexuality. (Outside of "Sex and the City," how often do we see that?) But her Jessica is soon revealed to be a quivering mess who chugs red wine like it's Kool-Aid and lies about her parents' mysterious past.

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer

"Twisted," with Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, David Strathairn, Russell Wong, Mark Pellegrino. Directed by Philip Kaufman, from a screenplay by Sarah Thorp. 90 minutes. Rated R for violence, language and sexuality. Several theaters.

And the fact that she seems to have bedded perhaps the entire male heterosexual population of the City by the Bay becomes unintentionally funny. She's a bit like Catherine O'Hara's randy dog owner in "Best in Show" (whose naughty smiles as she gradually recognized past bedmates were delicious), but the filmmakers don't seem to have noticed this. Instead, Jessica's all business as she wonders whether she drinks too much (um, yes) and whether she's really the killer.

"Twisted," like its generic title, isn't at all memorable; it has a certain glossy competence to it, but nobody involved seems to have put much energy into making it sing. Some good actors pop up — a long-faced David Strathairn nicely plays a police psychologist — but they're all ultimately lost in the fog.

One performer, however, should be noted: a sea lion, living on a Fisherman's Wharf dock, who contributes a floppy, wistful close-up. The press kit for "Twisted" notes that this is the first time sea lions have been used in a movie, and quite possibly they're right. Let's hope he gets an agent and flops into a better movie next time.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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