Presumed Innocent (1990)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Presumed Innocent</strong> (1990)

(In French, On Cable TV, February 2019) I miss 1990s standalone thrillers, and Presumed Innocent is a fine example of the form—adapted from a novel, it drops viewers right in the middle of a complex story and challenges them to keep up. The accumulation of subplots makes things more interesting than the rather simple core premise would suggest, with enough layering of legal system cynicism to provide the gritty atmosphere. I liked the dense beginning far more than the increasingly linear ending, which ends on a five-minute monologue that ends up sucking a lot of punch away from a striking revelation. This being said, Alan J. Pakula’s understated direction does leave full space for the focus to be on the story—this is not a film that would benefit from an overabundance of style. Harrison Ford is OK in the lead role, his stoic persona playing well with a character not prone to bursts of emotion. Elsewhere in the cast, Bonnie Bedelia is not bad as the protagonist’s wife, while Raul Julia is very cool as a top defence lawyer. Still, Presumed Innocent is a plot-driven film rather than an actor’s showcase, and at a time when so few top Hollywood movies run on pure story, it only makes me realize how much I miss it.

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