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I remember watching this film in the cinema, which was 26 years ago (!!) I didn’t remember much about it other than it centred on a man suffering with bi-polar disorder – and one of the first scenes, where he walks out on a piece of wood over a construction site, endangering his own life, although he clearly thinks he is invincible. Anyway, something about the film must have stuck in my memory enough to make me want to watch it again.

Richard Gere is the titular Mr Jones (we never discover his first name) whose illness means that he suffers from very extreme mood swings. He gets treatment from psychiatrist Dr Libbie Bowen, herself somewhat vulnerable after a relationship breakdown.

Mr Jones is an undoubtedly charismatic character and Dr Bowen finds herself drawn to him, despite professional ethics and personal doubts.

I enjoyed the movie on second viewing; to me, Richard Gere did seem to somewhat overplay the role, but I have no personal experience of bi-polar disorder, and reviewers who DO have such experience have said that he was brilliant, so I concede to their superior knowledge. In any event, whether he overplayed it or not, it did not detract from my interest or enjoyment. Lena Olin was excellent as Dr Bowen, and her feelings towards her patient are believable. When he is ‘up’ he is lots of fun, hugely intelligent, but also dangerously unpredictable. When he is ‘down’ he is vulnerable and introspective; it’s a heady combination.

Anne Bancroft is also in the film as Libbie’s boss, but I felt that for such a great talent, she was underused. However, Delroy Lindo was my favourite character as Mr Jones’s friend Howard. Kudos also to Lauren Tom as fellow patient Amanda Chang.

The only thing that didn’t sit right with me was the convenient Hollywood ending, which felt wrong to me and all too easy. But it’s a quick ending, and thankfully didn’t spoil the rest of the movie.

Overall, worth a watch if you are a fan of any of the actors (or watch it for Delroy Lindo’s small but excellent role), or if you have an interest in the disorder from which Mr Jones suffers.

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Year of release: 1993

Director: Mike Figgis

Writers: Eric Roth, Michael Cristofer

Main cast: Richard Gere, Lena Olin, Delroy Lindo, Tom Irwin, Lauren Tom

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Holly Krauss is beautiful and vivacious.  She has a happy marriage and runs a successful company with her friend Meg. It seems that Holly has it all.  But there is another side to her – a side that sees her putting herself into danger, and being reckless and thoughtless.  Her actions cause problems which just keep mounting and Holly suddenly finds herself in danger.  But she finds that she cannot trust her own judgement any longer, and even those she is closest to seem to be losing patience with her.  If Holly can’t rely on herself, then who can she rely on to catch her when she falls? And just because she is paranoid, does that mean that nobody is really after her?

I have always liked Nicci French’s novels, and this one, like the others, is an entertaining read, which had me wanting to “just read a few more pages” and then just a few more…

Holly is an interesting if not altogether likeable character.  While I sympathised with her and could see how people might be drawn to such a person, I also found myself becoming increasingly exasperated with her actions – particularly when she seemed to be ignorant of the obvious consequences which were bound to result.  However, I think that that was probably deliberate on the writers’ part.

Through Holly’s narrative, we see her world through her eyes, and how things start to fall apart for her.  Her loyal friend Meg tries to help and it seems that only she and Charlie – Holly’s husband – can pick up the pieces.  It is not clear at first whether Holly’s increasing paranoia is due to her own state of mind, and like Holly, the reader is not sure who to trust.

This is an undemanding read, despite the subject matter.  The action moves along at a rapid pace and did keep me wanting to know what was going to happen.  However, I was disappointed by the ending, which seemed to deliver almost as many questions as answers.  I actually wondered if there were another couple of pages at the back which I had missed.

All in all though, this is an entertaining psychological thriller, and I would recommend it to fans of the genre.  Not the author’s best book (I thought Beneath the Skin and Killing Me Softly were both much better), but still definitely worth reading.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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