Monday, April 14, 2008

Courtroom Drama: The Verdict

A seriously bleak, but ultimately inspirational lawyer pic with an outstanding performance from it's lead actor. Paul Newman has played many roles, and of those many roles, he played lower class men, such as in Cool Hand Luke, but never has he played a role with so much deepness and conviction. He plays the ambulance-chasing, alcoholic pinball wizard lawyer Frank Galvin, who is getting more and more pathetic as he loses more and more confidence in himself. He has gone on a streak of losses, and he has never recovered. When he gets a malpractice case involving a misuse of anesthesia, he decides to take it to court instead of taking the $210,000 that the hospital is willing to settle for. This goes awry at the beginning, as his trial plan he had fell to pieces after his main witness was paid off by the opposing side. But after some tactical thinking, he becomes the lawyer he once was. This character is so incredibly deep that I could say he is one of the best lawyer characters in cinema. You feel more engaged with him than you do with even ol' Atticus Finch, from the critically acclaimed and overrated To Kill a Mockingbird. To talk about the the movie, I wouldn't say it is the strongest law flick I've seen (Twelve Angry Men is the best), but it is in the Top 5, maybe in the Top 3. The movie's strong point is the acting, starting with Newman's masterpiece performance, and with Charlotte Rampling's performance of the film's Judas in the form of the driving Laura, and what I would call a solid performance from James Mason as the opposing lawyer. The directing, by now-83-year-old genius Sidney Lumet, is great. This movie is a great piece of filmmaking and deserves a spot on the AFI 100 in place of such mediocre pics as Toy Story because it knows depth well and uses it easily to its advantage. The verdict: guilty of greatness. A

No comments: