Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Time to Kill. A-

While I was watching A Time to Kill, I couldn't help but notice how closely it resembled Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (rankd by AFI as one of the best courtroom dramas ever made). Both films feature a lawyer defending a man for murdering the culprit of a rape (in A Time to Kill, two men are killed and the victim is the guy's daughter, whereas Anatomy of a Murder it's just one man avenging an attack on his girlfriend). But Perminger's movie left me uncertain about the morality in the jury's decision as well as Jimmy Stewart's character, who defends the murderer. I didn't feel like the killer was justifed in his actions, and therefore couldn't agree with the outcome of the story. So why did I want the father (Samuel L. Jackson) in A Time to Kill to win the case? After all, he's killed two men and severely injured a cop who was in the way. I think it came down to the speech given by the lawyer defending the father at the end of the film. Delivered with sincerity and realism, the speech recounts the attack on the little girl. It's sentimental, but also terribly tragic and I ended up feeling just like the jury who set the father free. So does this mean that the severity of the attack is what counts? Definitely worth debating. Besides the justification behind the story, A Time to Kill is also a riveting drama with a big cast a several outstanding performances. It's based off of John Grisham's first novel, and to me there are no adaptations of his work that are better than this. I liked the characters, I liked that the maried lawyer didn't end up falling in love with his assistant, played by Sandra Bullock. I liked that the movie had passion and pathos and that didn't let the familair material stilt the narrative.

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