Cast: Tim Robbins (Jacob Singer), Danny Aiello (Louis), Elizabeth Pena (Jezebel Singer), Matt Craven (Michael), Jason Alexander (Attorney Geary)
Director: Adrian Lyne (Nine 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Flashdance, Indecent Proposal)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about a Vietnam vet (Jacob) who is experiencing terrifying visions. He is living in what seems like a waking hallucination and can't seem to escape it. He doesn't know what's real and what's not, and he slowly loses his grip on sanity and reality until he finally finds peace.
Why you should watch it: This is the first movie I ever saw (besides Pink Floyd The Wall) which made me ask, "What the fuck is going on?" The film is darkly brilliant, and it never really lets up, completely engrossing and holding you captive on this sometimes horrifying journey. Tim Robbins plays the role of an intellectual quite naturally, and you want to trust that he's not losing his mind, but everything argues against it. He can't trust his wife to help, he can't trust his friends, and he can't trust the government - all of whom seem to think he's crazy when he contends he's perfectly sane regardless of the world crumbling around him. While not a Vietnam movie per se, it deals with elements of that war in the plot, and the lengths the government went to attempt to ensure victory. The film was released in 1990, a year which saw such happy and upbeat movies as Home Alone, Pretty Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Dances With Wolves, so Jacob's Ladder stood apart (with a few notable exceptions) as different from the pack. There are some truly disturbing scenes in this film - the man with the shaking head, the hospital - but there are some truly beautiful scenes as well. The movie asks the viewer to question what is real and what isn't, what is heaven and what is hell, what is happiness and what is sadness, and when to finally accept the answers. Sometimes I think this film gets lumped in with the horror or thriller genre, but I think it's more of a thoughtful piece with elements of mental terror. I've always been a fan of this film, even though I'm not a fan of Adrian Lyne or most of his canon. Keep the lights on and view this film again.
Availability: DVD, Blu Ray, Streaming, free on Youtube