John Grisham's powerful novel about persistent racial conflict in the South was transformed ten years ago into a gripping film by Joel Schumacher with the screenplay adaptation by Akiva Goldsman. The reporting of an act of violence by an African American father whose daughter had been kidnapped, brutally beaten, raped, and further debased brings together a rookie lawyer whose involvement with the father during the prolonged trial results in a suggestion that there may be hope for harmony, even on a small scale, if the racial lines can be erased or even blurred a bit.
Matthew McConaughey is the rookie white lawyer, Ashley Judd his wife, Samuel Jackson the father, Sandra Bullock the bright wannabe lawyer who assists McConaughey, Kevin Spacey the brilliant but slimy lawyer opposing McConaughey, Oliver Platt as McConaughey's sidekick, Donald Sutherland as the disbarred drunk of a lawyer who cleans up his act to help McConaughey find the truth justice knows, Patrick McGoohan as the implacable judge, and Kiefer Sutherland as the KKK redneck representing all the evil of the little southern town. It is a fine cast and Schumacher moves them naturally between their lives in the town and the interior of the courtroom with great facility.
Perhaps this will never be considered as one of the 'Great Movies', but is certainly pleads the case for understanding and for putting an end to the evils of racial bias. Recommended. Grady Harp, January 06
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Grady Harp (gradyharp)
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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You wouldn't know it by watching theBatmanmovies they collaborated on, but this smart adaptation of John Grisham's novel proves that director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have some talent when the right project comes along. Schumacher had previously directed Grisham'sThe Client, and brought equal craft and intelligence to this story about a young Southern attorney (Matthew McConaughey, in his breakthrough role) who defends a black father (Samuel L. Jackson) after he kills two men who raped his young daughter. Sandra Bullock plays the passionate law student who serves as McConaughey's legal aide and voice of conscience in the racially charged drama. Added to the star power of the lead roles is a fine supporting cast, including Kevin Spacey, Ashley Judd, and Oliver Platt.--Jeff Shannon