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With: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jason Alexander, Patricia Kalember, Eriq La Salle, Ving Rhames, Brian Tarantina, Anthony Alessandro, Brent Hinkley, S. Epatha Merkerson
Written by: Bruce Joel Rubin
Directed by: Adrian Lyne
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 113
Date: 11/02/1990

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Grand Delusion

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin famously won an Oscar for his pop Hollywood hit Ghost (1990), but the same year he wrote this far more inventive thriller, so fascinating that it was published and sold in bookstores. Tim Robbins stars in Jacob's Ladder as Jacob, a Vietnam veteran who is plagued by strange visions, hallucinations, flashbacks, and fragmented reality. He is living with his girlfriend Jezebel (Elizabeth Peña) and is separated from his wife after the death of his youngest son (Macaulay Culkin, the same year as Home Alone). He also occasionally needs to see his chiropractor (Danny Aiello), a philosophical man who talks about death. He meets up with some of the men from his unit (Pruitt Taylor Vince, Eriq La Salle, and Ving Rhames among them) and realizes that something is wrong, that something strange may have happened to all of them back in the war. He tries to find the answer, but things just keep getting stranger. (It's certainly worth more than one viewing.) Adrian Lyne, not the world's most intellectual director (Flashdance, Fatal Attraction, etc.), actually keeps this on track. And though he arguably focuses more on the thriller elements than the existential ones, he still manages a seductive, nightmare-like quality, with a shocking, satisfying third act.

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