Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy at the Movies

I went to see THE LINCOLN LAWYER under the vague apprehension that it was about Abraham Lincoln. It's not; the movie about Lincoln that involves lawyers is called CONSPIRATOR and isn't out yet, at least not in Seattle. I don't know if that one is any good, but THE LINCOLN LAWYER is.

I want three things from a movie: characters I'm interested in (which is not the same as liking); a plot that is logical, cohesive, and absorbing; and a sense that there is something being said about the world. LINCOLN LAWYER delivers on all three. Other viewers may want other qualities from a film: visual style, for instance, on which this movie does not score as high. Or so I'm told -- visual style is not something I'm very sensitive to.

The film is about Mickey Haller, well played by Matthew McConaughey, a very successful defense lawyer of sleazy scumbags. Haller knows every scam, trick, and deception in the justice system, and employs most of them himself. When he gets a client who is actually innocent, possibly a first for him, his usual balance is upset. The glimpses of the underbelly of the courthouse-and-jail life are fascinating. Haller, who at first seems one-dimensional, reveals other facets of himself as we see his complex relationship with his ex-wife, his love for his child, and his confusion as he approaches a moral dilemma: a guilty man may still deserve a good defense, but what if he's really really guilty of something really really heinous? Where is the line in aiding evil that you don't cross -- or do you?

The plot twists and turns, and the rest of the cast keeps pace with it (Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy). If you like courtroom dramas, you'll like this one.


TheOFloinn said...

I second that. If there is a difference between artist and artisan [and there was none before the 19th century] then this was a film of excellent artisanship. It followed the book faithfully, and the book was written by a good craftsman: Michael Connelly. The one missing element was the relationship with his late father, which was explored more in the book; but when a novel is made into a film, something has to get cut.

The character is one of several continuing characters in Connelly's universe. (His half-brother is LAPD detective Hieronymus Bosch.) He made cameos in a couple of Bosch books, and is the main character in THE LINCOLN LAWYER, THE BRASS VERDICT, and the new one THE REVERSAL. In the latter he is joined by Harry Bosch and by his ex-wife Maggie McPherson (known as Maggie McFierce).

Gregory said...

The novels are quite good and I gather their sequels will be films too, leading to a Bosch film series as well. I've read 'em all & this film gets in the whole plot! Not easy to do.