By Mark Betancourt
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday February 27, 2003
"Edge of Madness," just out on DVD, is one of those movies you've never heard of with a big, important-sounding tag line that sums up the entire movie and makes it unnecessary to actually watch the film. "A man she didn't love. A marriage she couldn't leave. A murder she couldn't explain."
There it is.
It's 1851, winter in the Red River Valley (out 'round where Fargo is nowadays). A battered, hysterical French girl named Annie stumbles into this town and tells the guys at the jail she's murdered her husband. They don't really believe her, I guess because she's a girl. So they put her in jail. The rest of the movie is cuts between flashbacks of Annie's life on the frontier homestead with her psycho husband and really, really mild scenes of Annie in jail befriending the townspeople.
Basically, she's sitting around in her boarding school thinking about how she wishes she were a wife and had babies, so she dresses up extra nice for this young mountainy looking guy who comes in to pick up a wife along with the wood and stuff
he needs for the homestead he's building. He says "she'll do" and they're off.
Right away things look bad for Annie. The husband, Simon, rapes her on their first night together and pretty much every subsequent night, and otherwise isn't much fun to be around. Annie and Simon's brother George get along well, though, and Simon starts to get jealous.
Mind you, I've brought you to about two-thirds of the way through the whole film. It's that sort of movie.
Not that it's unpleasant to watch, not at all. In fact, the imagery is often nice to look at, and the acting is just fine. The woman who plays Annie (Caroline Dhavernas) does an excellent job of rounding out her character with smiles in happy times and tears in sad ones, something that seems to be lost on many actors lately.
So it's actually nice to watch. It's easy to just kind of soak up the story, not really think about it or expect anything in particular to happen, because it doesn't. This film is kind of Lifetime Channel, kind of "women's issues stand for themselves," although the story is much more pleasant than those sorts of things.
Sure, there are a few scenes where you wonder what in the hell happened. Once Annie flips out for just one day while she's in jail, totally inexplicably. She puts on a wedding dress and goes around saying, "I'm going to marry the devils." OK.
I guess the only real problem with this movie is the silliness of the title. Yeah, she's having a rough time. But she still manages to smile from time to time; get some sewing done. She's not that mad, or even really on the edge of being so. Maybe a little distraught at times. And things don't turn out so badly for her after all. If you just can't wait to see how it all ends up, you'll have to go rent it for yourself.