The law states that no person can be put on trial twice for the same crime. This is the issue here at hand in the film “Double Jeopardy.”
Libby (Ashley Judd) and Nick Parsons (Bruce Greenwood) were apparently a happy couple, so happy that Nick presented Libby with a sailboat for her birthday although he was not fond of sailing himself. He wanted to have a weekend alone out on the ocean with his wife while Libby’s best friend Angie (Annabeth Gish) took care of their 4-year-old son Matty.
Ashley Judd - Wikimedia
Libby Wakes to a Bloody Scene
The weather was perfect for sailing and the couple slept while the boat was anchored deep in the calm waters. When Libby woke up, her terry cloth robe was covered in blood, and blood was spilled on the floor, up the stairs to the deck, and profusely on the deck, where Libby picked up a bloody knife. At that moment, the Coast Guard pulled up, spotting Libby with the knife in her hand. Nick was nowhere to be seen.
Libby is Convicted of Murder
Libby was charged with Nick’s death although she insisted that she was innocent. She was sent to prison. Nick’s insurance policy, in effect for a short time, would have given her a large sum of money. She begged her friend Angie to adopt Matty lest he become a ward of the state. Angie reluctantly agreed. In prison, Libby constantly complained that she was innocent, to the dismay and laughter of her female inmates. She believed that Nick was still alive. Her roommate in prison, Margaret (Roma Maffia), a former attorney, explained to Libby that once she got out of prison, she could shoot Nick in the middle of Times Square and could not be charged with murder because of the Double Jeopardy clause in the law.
Tommy Lee Jones - Wikimedia
Libby is Released from Prison
After six years, Libby was released from prison under the care of her parole officer Travis Lehman (Tommy Lee Jones), a hard-drinking bureaucrat who had lost favor with his superiors. Travis was extremely strict with the parolees in his charge.
Libby had a difficult time tracking down Angie and Matty, who had moved to California. A fellow teacher of Angie’s would not give her any information about Angie’s whereabouts. When Libby finally located Angie by phone, she was able to speak to her son Matty also. In the background, she heard Matty say “Daddy,” as he supposedly walked in on the phone call. The phone was quickly disconnected. Libby knew for sure that Nick was still alive and was living with Angie and Matty.
Libby Sets Out to Find Matty
Travis explained to Libby that she had conditional parole for three years. She had a curfew of 8:30 p.m. and he was to know about her whereabouts at all times. Of course, she broke parole in her efforts to locate her son Matty. When she landed back in jail, Travis came to get her release and handcuffed her to the car door handle. Foolishly, he stopped at a convenient store and Libby attempted to break the door handle by smashing into another car. Travis came after her and the car was sideswiped into the water. Travis was pulled out by the Coast Guard, but Libby managed to get free by swimming across the lake.
Bruce Greenwood - Wikimedia
Libby Located Angie’s Address
Libby visited her mother who gave her a stash of money that Libby’s father had left. Libby used Angie’s name when she visited a car dealer. The car dealer had Angie’s address. When she visited the address, it was inhabited by someone new. Libby spoke to an elderly neighbor who explained that Angie was killed in a gas explosion in the house three years ago. The neighbor explained that Matty and his father Simon Ryder were not there at the time.
Nick, the Art Collector
Libby scoured the newspaper archives about the woman killed in a gas explosion. The picture showed Angie with a Kandinsky painting on the wall behind her. Libby knew that her husband Nick was a fan of Kandinsky paintings. She visited an art collector who was able to pinpoint that the particular Kandinsky painting had been sold to a man named Jonathan Devereaux in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Libby Confronts Nick
Of course, Libby broke parole again and managed to knock over Travis’ car when he came after her. Along the way, she was able to steal Travis’ gun from him. She visited the art gallery in New Orleans and learned that Jonathan Devereaux was out but would be back tonight for the gala. Libby stopped at a high-fashion dress shop and bought a dress, charging it to the room of someone named Mrs. Krisch. (Do not try this at home.) She managed to crash the party by following closely behind a couple making their entrance.
Jonathan Devereaux was introduced. Of course, it was Nick, who was in charge of the auction that was in progress. Libby kept bidding on an item, bringing it to $10,000, winning the bid. She confronted Nick when she reached the podium. He took her arm swiftly and they left the room.
Nick tried to explain that his business was going under so he had to purchase the insurance policy. He tried to explain that the gas explosion which killed Angie was an accident, but Libby did not believe his story. She explained that her only purpose was to have Matty back.
Travis is on Libby’s Trail
Meanwhile, Travis had been on Libby’s trail and walked into the auction. He showed Libby’s picture to Jonathan, but Jonathan denied knowing her. Libby had slipped out and walked into a bar. A friendly bartender showed her the back way out when the police came after her.
A False Lead
Libby called Nick and told him to bring Matty to a nearby cemetery where she would meet them. The boy walked away when Libby approached him. The tombstones and statues were so numerous, she had difficulty finding him. It was revealed that the boy was not really Matty when Nick paid him surreptitiously for his time when he left. Nick walked up to Libby and knocked her head against a pillar, knocking her out.
Handgun - Wikimedia
A Difficult Scene to Watch
I am claustrophobic so the next scene was difficult to watch. Nick had placed Libby in a coffin when she was unconscious. She awoke locked in the casket. Fortunately, Travis’ gun was in her pocket and she used it to shoot the lock off so that the casket cover could be opened. It was a frightening scene.
Travis finally found Libby walking down the street. He admitted that she had been innocent all along and he finally had believed her. Without going into details about their last meeting with Nick, it is enough to say that the double jeopardy clause went into effect. Libby and Travis learned that Matty was a student at St. Alban’s School in Georgia. Libby was thrilled when Matty remembered her and embraced her on their meeting.
I enjoyed this film thoroughly. It involved a woman with great courage and intelligence who did not give up her goal to see justice done and to regain for herself her rightful place in society.