Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The Devil's Advocate

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, Jeffrey Jones

Running time: 144 minutes

Year: 1997

Directed By: Taylor Hackford

Written By: Jonathan Lemkin & Tony Gilroy

The Devil's Advocate trailer

If you have seen the trailer or any promotional material for this film you will generally know the rough story of it. I won't tell you the in depth story of the film but I will tell you the story before it is actually all revealed, the trailer gives far too much away of the final act which breaks the surprise of the conclusion.

The film starts with Kevin Lomax (Reeves) defending a paedophile school teacher who is clearly guilty. Lomax manages to win the case and it is then revealed that he has won every case he has fought in. After winning this latest one, he heads out to celebrate with his wife Mary-Anne (Theron) where he is approached with an offer from a firm in New York who want his help picking a jury. Due to the financial gain, Lomax and his wife take the plunge and move to New York, where Lomax's great work in picking a jury see him lead the line defending a possible triple homicide case and moving into a top end fifth avenue apartment. This is a man at the pinnacle of his career, with a gorgeous wife and now a glorious apartment in one of the most attractive cities in the world. What could possibly go wrong?

As Lomax begins to grow into his new job, and work under the supervision of his new boss John Milton (Pacino) things do take a turn for the worse. Mary-Anne begins to feel lonely and craves the baby that could make her life complete, however Kevin's concentration remains on his job. This forces Mary-Anne to socialise with the other lawyer's wives and partners. One day when they are out shopping, Mary-Anne begins to hallucinate and the wives begin to turn into demonic figures. She decides to lock herself in her apartment, where things start to become much worse for her in the hallucination stakes, as well as in the neglect from her preoccupied husband. On the side of his concentration on his job, Kevin begins an infatuation with a co-worker, who he envisions whilst having sex with his wife. His neglect doesn't go unnoticed by Mary-Anne and she slowly begins to free fall into possible schizophrenia, with her ending up in a metal hospital. Has Kevin let his life spiral out of control due to his job, his new boss, or himself?

The film is very clever, even if it does become a little supernatural at the end. The courtroom set up works really well, and the fact that the 'demons' belong amongst lawyers seems to be sending out a hidden message. The story here has been developed well and the writing is top drawer. There are many twists and turns in the film, and I'm sure many of you are aware of the outcome, that slowly bring the story to its final conclusion. At several points throughout it is hinted towards what is going on, and the only person that doesn't see it is Kevin. You will find out when you watch it why that is though. Everything pulls together well and it is a real intriguing watch.

Al Pacino is fantastic as John Milton, and when you hit the conclusion you will understand how brilliantly he portrays his character. The cinematography also aids in his character with many red lights and dark shadows really highlighting him, as well as Pacino's devilish smile. Theron is also great as the psychologically frail wife. Her emotional ride is clearly visible as the film goes on and she also shines in possibly the most horrific scene in the film, one that forced my jaw to the floor and my hand over my mouth. It was shocking. Keanu Reeves on the other hand plays Keanu Reeves. At times his portrayal works, especially in the final half of the film, however his accent becomes more of an annoyance and his delivery of his line make his performance even more wooden. Another actor may have done the character more justice, but Reeves is known for acting like that.

The first half of the film is very slow, and it isn't until about half way through that it really starts to kick in. The hallucinations at times are freaky and it is at this point where you really will become hooked. The story is intriguing and is thoroughly enjoyable considering it is a slight courtroom drama. The twist of the film may not be a surprise, but it does hit you hard and it makes much of the film make more sense. The tension is high throughout the long running time and it had me gripped from start to finish. I do think the final climax could have been cut slightly though, and it does slowly border on farce, but the director holds it together and has produced a film full of tension, and with several biblical themes that refer to many of us.

3.5 / 5

Next film to review: JERRY MAGUIRE

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