Monday, January 9, 2012
Primal Fear. B
The first movie I saw for 2012 was Primal Fear, a film I've wanted to see since I realized Edward Norton was an actor worth reckoning with. Plus, people always seem to mention it when talking about his great performances. Besides that, I knew really nothing about the movie going into it. As a whole I liked it. There was no love or even admiration for the film (it's dark, gritty, and even nasty at times), but to its credit it managed to alter the tradition of the court room drama without raising its opinion of itself. This film is low down, a game really, but happily a very skillfully played one. Norton is only in supporting role here as an alter boy, 19, accused of murdering a popular archbishop in Chicago. Richard Gere plays a defense attorney who takes on the boy's case pro bono. I suppose he wants attention, though eventually he begins to feel the boy is truly innocent. Laura Linney is the prosecutor to whom Gere is attracted to amidst their competition. She and Gere have some nice scenes together that sizzle with dislike and hidden desire. Francis McDormand is also taking part in things as Norton's psychiatrist, and it is she who first discovers some secrets to his character that lead up to movie's big bang finale. I liked the characters in the movie, mainly because none of them were glorified. Gere isn't quite sleazy, but he's also far from a white knight. Throughout the movie he's trying to play Linney, and in the end it's he who's been played. Primal Fear does a good job of playing with formula only to reveal it's really more of an anti-courtroom drama. For a 130 minute movie, it flew by.