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What the hell was that

I’m a reasonably bright person, so it’s rare that I come away from a movie without a clue what went on, but that’s exactly what just happened. Jacob’s Ladder is the single most perplexing film ever made. It comes to this: it just doesn’t make any goddam sense. Most movies have plots that drive them forward, but Jacob here dives sideways headfirst at every opportunity.

I’m at a loss here; I can’t find words to explain this thing. I could tell you about tender love scenes and gratuitous frontal nudity juxtaposed with gibbering, demonic faces; I could tell you about Vietnam flashbacks and governmental conspiracy plots that never ripen to fruition; I could even mention the fact that Tim Robbins’ character almost died four times and went to hell at least twice in the two hours, and not in that order. But I won’t say any of those things, because at least those are concrete ideas you can wrap your head around, and would therefore grant a sense of cohesion to this film it just doesn’t deserve. Right now you’re thinking, “OK, so it’s about demons and sex, and there’s some Vietnam stuff in there. That sounds like something I could handle.” Stop it. You don’t know what you’re saying. If it was just about schizophrenia and it turned out the whole plot was a series of hallucinations, that would be one thing. But the ending, rather than providing some sort of resolution as I’m accustomed to them doing (the above would have worked just fine by me), added insult to injury. Nathan and I are both pissed off; and I mean fist-pumping, 19th-century-slang-invoking pissed. We just gave 2 hours of our lives (apiece!) and got this nonsensical anti-denouement in return. “Tim Robbins, you cheap strumpet! We believed in you, and you let us down, you fussbudget!”

I’m incoherent. To be fair, I slept less than three hours last night. Sitting on my couch at 5:30 in the morning nursing warm milk, watching the hypnotic sway of the bamboo forest outside my living room window and wondering what the hell is the matter with me, I debated just giving up and putting on the movie. That would have been a mistake. At least tonight I have Nathan to serve as a control subject, assuring me that I haven’t lost all my pop-sensibilities by sharing in my confusion. A morning viewing would have left me questioning my sanity. Wait, was that the point? Damn it.

Posted in Musings.


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