Directed by Bruce Robinson. Starring Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Lance Henriksen. (1992, R, 124 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 13, 1992
The story behind Jennifer 8 is nearly as interesting as the film itself, what with the behind-the-scenes infighting between director Robinson and his producers. Rumored to have been a troubled shoot all the way around, Robinson (Withnail & I, How to Get Ahead in Advertising) nevertheless has managed to come up with a darkly solid piece of filmmaking. Garcia is John Berlin, a burnt-out homicide detective who relocates from Los Angeles to the backwaters of Northern California in a last-ditch attempt to come to grips with a job he no longer enjoys, a drinking problem and a wife who's left him in the lurch. Unfortunately for Berlin, small-town life isn't as prosaic as the travelogues have painted it as being: body parts begin turning up from the moment of his arrival, and Berlin, much to the annoyance of his new bosses, thinks he may be on the track of a serial killer with a penchant for blind women. While trying to sort out exactly whether or not there actually is a maniac hanging around town, Berlin runs into, and eventually falls in love with, Helena (Thurman), a blind woman who may be the link he's looking for. Robinson keeps Jennifer 8 moving right along, alternately dropping clues right in our laps and tossing in a red herring or two, but it's the dark town running like a black thread throughout the whole film that keeps your nerves jangling. Nearly half of the action here takes place in dim or unlighted hallways, buildings, streets, and that makes for a very grim story, despite the Garcia/Thurman love interest. Robinson, who wrote the screenplay for The Killing Fields, seems to have a knack for this, and whether you like it or not, he does it well.