Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer

I had a perfect night last night: dinner with people I love, French wine and then, an American thriller.

THE LINCOLN LAWYER is a well-crafted drama about justice and the law. A criminal lawyer(Matthew McConaughey,mercifully not in a rom-com) practices out of the back of his Lincoln in a gritty and unlovely Los Angeles. His clients are hookers, bikers, dealers: mostly people you wouldn't want to run into in an alley unless you were up to no good yourself.

This is not one of those films that makes practicing criminal law look glamorous. It's an adversarial system,flawed and compromised. Our lawyer is divorced from his prosecutor wife(Marisa Tomei, great as usual)who still loves him but can't live with him and his choices. The film asks the interesting question: in a morally gray universe, which compromises are you willing you to make and which ones are you not?

A bail clerk brings our lawyer a client(Ryan Phillipe),a rich kid up on an aggravated sexual assault charge against a prostitute. He claims to be a victim too: framed by the lady of the evening and another john so he could be sued civilly for an amount that would allow her to retire from her dangerous and unsavory line of work. His mommy, a real estate mogul is more than willing to finance the kid's defense. However, when our lawyer's private detective(the great William H. Macy) begins to investigate,we discover the rich kid is not quite the innocent he is pretending to be.

An incident arising from this digging around(I'm not going to spoil the plot for you)takes our flawed hero to a dark night of the soul. How far has his brand of law taken him from justice? Moreover,what is he prepared to do to get justice for a wronged man?

It is a really good script: not a brilliant script,like CHINATOWN but a really good script very well made. If like me,you love a thriller with three-dimensional humans,a few deft plot twists and some fine acting by a uniformly good cast,this is a good night out.

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