Bridget Fonda is the sexually satisfied wife of handsome Hart Bochner. One afternoon she comes home, calls him "honey", and quietly fixes him a drink, only to find that he's sulking. Minutes go by while she compliantly puts up with his frowning silence. Suddenly, he bursts into a rage, accusing her of infidelity in the complete absence of any reason to do so, calls her the C word, slams her head against a cabinet, slaps her around, and winds up flinging her off the second-floor balcony, breaking her hand and a couple of ribs.
She wakes up in the hospital where, it is revealed, she is deaf, although we notice that she reads lips perfectly. That avoids all the awkwardness associated with an ASL interpreter or having her squawk words in a simulacrum of language.
All right. Let me just lay out the basic plot elements. This beautiful and devoted handicapped woman is beaten by her husband, misunderstood by her elderly mother, betrayed by her sister, has her bank account emptied by unknown hands, almost raped by a fat man who accosts her in a bar, is thought to have murdered her now missing husband, and is pursued by two cops (Kiefer Sutherland and Steven Weber), one of whom is interested only in justice while the other seems to dislike all women and is embarrassed by their presence. The end finds her standing alone at a deserted bus stop with a hand full of cash -- alone, tearful, but brave.
Now, a pop quiz. There is only one multiple-choice question. "This story was written by: (a) a man or (b) a woman." Not to sound sexist. One could as easily pose a scenario about a decorated military hero and trained warrior who is captured by his enemies, betrayed by his organization, beaten and tortured, escapes to exact revenge, and winds up with the woman he loves, whom he thought he'd lost long ago.
The direction is functional and conventional. When Fonda regains consciousness in a hospital bed, we see from her point of view the faces of the anxious doctors and nurses looking down at her -- that is, at the camera -- an echo of every scene in myriad second-rate movies in which the gurney is being hurriedly wheeled down the corridor and people wearing starched white coats and festooned with stethoscopes hover over the camera.
Hart Bochner has played a number of evil people in an interesting way -- some of the characters are stupid ("Die Hard") and some are rather more than plain rude ("And The Sea Will Tell"). His virile handsomeness has a kind of evil tint to it. It would be too easy to cast him as a hero. Nice, intentionally bland performance by Steven Weber as the dumb cop -- maybe the best in the film.
Bridget Fonda is interesting too. Her acting range is limited but it's on full display here. What makes her an object of interest is her almost stereotypical beauty. She's like a high school prom queen. Very feminine. Of course she can't help it if she slithers around or moves her hands so gracefully. Neither can she do anything about her nose. For most of its length it's perfectly normal and attractive but at its very tip there is a bump outward that follows the natural flare of her nostrils. The tip of that nose is full of intrigue.
As for the movie -- Pfui.