Director: Bruce Beresford
Cast: Ashely Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish
Released: September 24, 1999
Viewed in theaters: September 26, 1999
This is one of those movies that are so bad, they're awesome and enjoyable to watch. I don't know what it is about this movie. I know it's not a particularly great movie, but I've seen it a handful of times and always love watching it. Maybe I just love it when a-holes get their comeuppance.
I don't know whose husband is worst: Jennifer Lopez's in Enough or Ashley Judd's in this movie. One of them was an abusive and cheating jerk and the other faked his own death and made it looks like his wife did it so she would rot in prison! Yes, in this movie, Ashley Judd's husband stages his own death and frames his wife. But she is out for revenge when she is told of a little something called....double jeopardy! Dun dun dun!
Libby and Nick Parsons (Ashley Judd and Bruce Greenwood) appear to have the perfect marriage...at least to Libby and everybody else! They have an adorable five year old son named Matty, they live in a beautiful home in Whidbey Island, Washington (which I've been to...shout out!), Nick has a successful career. However, Nick is having an affair...with Angie (Annabeth Gish), Libby's best friend of all people. One night, while on a weekend boat trip, Libby wakes up in the middle of the night after a passionate night with her husband to find blood everywhere and her husband missing. She is stopped by the Coast Guard where she is arrested for the murder of her husband. It doesn't seem to cross her mind until much later how weird it is that her husband was "murdered" and yet she was alive and fine. And wouldn't she hear her husband being stabbed to death? It's a boat...how big can it be? Exactly, Cal from Titanic. How BIG can it be? I mean, of course people are going to think she was the one who killed him! And that's why she is sent to prison. Although, I say, no body...no death! And they didn't find the body...of course they were out in the middle of the ocean, so they figured she dumped his body in it.
I don't think Nick framed his wife because he wanted to get out of their marriage and be with Angie. That seems a little extreme. Don't get me wrong, the whole thing is extreme, regardless. Rather, he has a nice little life insurance policy that will, should he die, and his wife so happen to be the cause of his death, will go to his son. Libby (not knowing anything about the affair) gives Angie custody of her son. I don't remember if they said anything about her having any parents or siblings she could leave her son with (although there is a scene later where she's visiting her mom in the South). It seems weird that you would leave your child with a close friend rather than a family member. It's just like that movie Life As We Know It....don't even get me started on the stupidity of those parents! I guess the hefty life insurance money went to Angie since she became Matty's guardian, although I always thought when money is for a kid, it stays in the bank where it cannot be touched by anyone until the kid turns 18. But I don't know anything about banking and finances, so I could be totally wrong. Now that Nick has his new girlfriend and a crapload of money (I mean, he had a bunch of money before, so I really don't know why he needed this money so bad...he must have really hated his wife even though we never saw anything to support that), he is able to take Angie and Matty to San Francisco.
This is around the time when Libby is starting to think something is up. I don't remember how long she was sentenced for but at least a year has passed when she notices that Angie and Matty don't come around to visit as much as they used to and soon it gets to the point where Libby can't even contact Angie anymore. Through trickery she obtains Angie's new phone number and address and is beyond pissed to discover she has moved to San Francisco and didn't even tell Libby. Well, yeah, I would be pretty furious too if I was in jail and my friend was watching my kid and they moved to another city without telling me. She calls Angie to give her a piece of her mind, but Angie says she meant to call and tell her, but she's been so busy. Matty is there and wants to talk to his mom so Angie lets him, but her hand is still on the receiver, ready to snatch that sucker away.
Okay, I don't remember anything about being five years old, nor do I know any five year olds, so I don't know how a five-year-old interprets the concept of death or prison. Does he know his dad "died"? Does he understand his mom is in prison because she "killed" Daddy? But SURPRISE! Nick isn't dead. Bet you didn't see that one coming! I thought for sure Matty was going to blurt out, "Mommy! Daddy isn't dead anymore!" But he just talks to her and says he misses her and when is he going to see her again. It isn't until a few minutes later when Nick walks in that he exclaims, "Daddy" and that phone is quickly hung up by Angie.
It all suddenly starts to click together for Libby. It's her "a-ha!" moment. Not only has her husband framed her for his so-called murder, but he was having an affair with her best friend...who basically kidnapped her son and took him to another city so they could live off Nick's life insurance money. Well, lucky for Libby, one of her fellow inmates used to be a lawyer and she informs her of a little thing called double jeopardy. It is a clause that states that a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice. That means that since Libby was already convicted for murdering her husband, then she can really murder him and not be sentenced for it. So of course she is all ready to get her vengeance. And if you're asking why didn't she just tell the police, she did, but Nick and Angie changed numbers and moved or did something where they couldn't be traced.
With good behavior, Libby gets out six years later where she lives in a halfway house and is under the supervision of her parole office, Travis (Tommy Lee Jones). There is an amusing scene where she's at the library trying to find if she can locate Nick's or Angie's address. The guy helps her find the info she needs (remember the present day is 1999 and she was in jail when the whole Internet craze of the '90s broke out so she doesn't know anything about how to get around the 'net). However he is a creeper who blatantly hits on her and asks her out. She tells him she'll have to check with her parole officer and when he asks her what she did, he is out of there in a flash when she replies, "Oh, I killed my husband." That's a good line to get rid of unwanted attention from the opposite sex!
In order to find Nick, she escapes from Travis while they're on a ferry in Puget Sound and her travels take her to Colorado where Nick and Angie lived and Angie died in a fire (but Libby knows the fire was not an accident! I'm not really sure why Nick killed Angie) and then she goes on to New Orleans where Nick has been living under the alias of Jonathan Devereaux. Do you think he took that surname because he's a fan of The Golden Girls? "I'm Jonathan Devereux, no relation to Blanche."
She confronts Nick at a fancy auction he's holding that she snuck into and threatens to expose who he is if he doesn't let her see their son. He tells her they will meet tomorrow at this huge-ass cemetery and for some stupid reason, she agrees to it. I'd be like, "Hell, no, we're not going to some big open space where there are plenty places to hide...we're going to meet at the Starbucks around the corner!" Unbeknownst to Libby (and the audience at this time), Matty, who would be around 12 at this time, isn't even in the same state. He is at boarding school in Georgia. Nick has paid some random kid to take Libby on a wild goose chase and keep running from her until she ends up in a mausoleum where Nick is there to greet her with a knock over the head and puts her unconscious body in a coffin...with another body! Ewwww! Luckily she has a gun (which she stole from Travis) to shoot her way out and luckily she wasn't underground so she can just walk out the door.
Meanwhile, on his quest to find Libby, Travis does his own research on Nick and finds out he's still alive and Libby never killed him. They both confront Nick where Libby tells him she can shoot him in the middle of Mardi Gras and nobody will even blink and Travis confirms that this is true. We-ell, this is not exactly true. I did a little research (and I do mean little!) and double jeopardy doesn't exactly work this way. She would still be convicted if she actually killed Nick. Luckily the movie doesn't have to deal with that because she doesn't kill Nick...at least not in cold-blooded murder. She decides he's not worth it and he grabs her gun and tries to kill her, but after a struggle, Libby kills him in self-defense.
She goes to see her son and he is played by Spencer Treat Clark who I totally forgot about. I remember seeing him everywhere around the early '00s (like Gladiator and and Unbreakable and Mystic River) and I was like, "Oh, yeah, that kid!" He was a really cute kid and I looked up some recent pics (he's 28 now) and he's really good-looking. He definitely was a winner in the genetic pool. Mother and son have a teary, heartfelt reunion.