Jacob's Ladder | Chicago Reader

Jacob's Ladder

A bold, powerful psychological horror film (1990) about a recently returned Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) in New York City, plagued by nightmarish visions he doesn't understand. Thanks to a remarkable script by Bruce Joel Rubin and the directorial skills of Adrian Lyne (whose infernal vision of New York is even more effective here than in Fatal Attraction), this works as both a highly effective stream-of-consciousness puzzle thriller offering the viewer not one but many “solutions” and an emotionally persuasive statement about the plight of many American vets who fought in Vietnam. The surprises, ambiguities, and many shifting levels of reality and consciousness sometimes recall The Manchurian Candidate, albeit without that film's ironic sensibility. Robbins fully meets the unusual demands of his part, and Elizabeth Peña and Danny Aiello are equally impressive.

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