As we wind down this October, I’m back with another film analysis post, this time of the suspense thriller Double Jeopardy (1999), starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones.
Here’s the IMDb.com plot synopsis for the film:
“A woman framed for her husband’s murder suspects he is still alive; as she has already been tried for the crime, she can’t be re-prosecuted if she finds and kills him.”
There are so many factual errors in that plot synopsis alone. I won’t go into them here; check out the IMDb.com Goofs page for the film.
Here’s a quick trailer:
There are no actual reel librarians in this film, landing it in the Class V category. However, there are a few research scenes that I found interesting, so let’s dig in, shall we?
Research scene in the library:
After Libby (Ashley Judd) has served her time in prison for the crime of murdering Nick, her husband (Bruce Greenwood), she visits a public library to look up her former friend, the one who adopted Libby’s son, Matty. This library scene occurs 35 minutes into the film, and it was filmed at the main Vancouver Public Library in British Columbia. (I’ve been there!)
Since Libby’s been in prison the last 6 years, she’s not used to computers or concepts such as email. (Remember, this film was released in 1999.) She even says to a young man who stops to help her out on the computer that “Someone said I should try the internet.” I also really hope that “someone” was NOT a librarian!
This young man asks her a few questions — essentially doing a “reference interview” although it is clear that he is NOT a reel librarian. How do I know that?
- He never identifies himself as a librarian
- He is casually dressed, with a backpack or messenger bag (most likely marking him as a student)
- He only agrees to help her after she reveals that she’s not looking for a guy friend (gross)
- His role in the credits is listed as “Handsome Internet Expert,” hah!
After learning that her friend was a school teacher, he recommends that they start at the Washington State Department of Education directory site. Bingo!
Note: There is no “Washington State Department of Education,” so this is a factual error. The Washington state educational agency is called the “Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction,” otherwise known as OSPI.
While helping her, the young man continually attempts to flirt with her. This is Libby’s priceless reaction:
After getting what she needs, Libby expertly sends the guy on his way by revealing that she had been convicted of murdering her husband. Buh-bye!
This library scene, with nary a reel librarian, lasts a total of 2 minutes. It is effective in helping Libby locate her friend, which gives her the next clue in tracking down her husband.
The best thing about this scene? The old-school web site designs, full of tables and frames. Ahhhhhhh, good times. 😉
You can view the entire library research scene below.
Research scene in the newspaper archives:
Fifty-eight minutes into the film, we next see Libby researching the death of her friend — she suspects at the hand of her husband! — by using microfilm in a local newspaper’s archives. It’s funny, Libby seems much more comfortable using microfilm than she did using a computer. That subtle body language is a nice touch. You can tell it’s a newspaper archives room because in the foreground, you can see newspapers being printed.
This scene lasts less than 30 seconds, but it provides a clue that leads Libby to the next step. In the photo used in the newspaper story about her friend’s death, Libby recognized a painting in the background.
Research scene in an art gallery:
And this next clue leads Abby to a particular painter, Wassily Kandinsky, her husband used to collect. So she heads to a local art gallery and asks the gallery owner to try and track down any purchasers of recent paintings by that artist. The gallery owner looks up the Art Net website for this info, while Libby looks on over his shoulder. (Nice reversal of the first research scene, where a guy looked over her shoulder at the computer!)
Fun fact: The Art Net site still exists! It is a major art site used to “find artworks for sale, online auctions, top galleries, leading artists, and breaking art market news from around the globe.”
Below is a “then and now” collage from how the site (supposedly) looked in 1999, and how it looks now.
This art research scene lasts only a couple of minutes.
Adding up the value of research:
In total, all three scenes add up to less than 5 minutes total of screen time in Double Jeopardy, but they managed to pack in:
- three different types of research;
- different kinds of research tools, including websites and microfilm; as well as
- different research locations, including a public library, newspaper archives, and an art gallery.
And each time, the research leads to vital clues that lead Libby to locating her husband and child.
All in all, Libby comes across as quite resourceful. My final thought is how much more quickly she might have tracked her husband down if she had utilized the resources of a reel librarian… 😉
- Double Jeopardy. Dir. Bruce Beresford. Perf. Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Annabeth Gish. Paramount, 1999.
- “Double Jeopardy (1999).” IMDb.com, Accessed 30 Oct. 2018.
- “Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction” via Wikipedia is licensed under a CC BY SA 3.0 license.