Top positive review
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"If you look carefully, you'll find everything has a weak spot"
on 25 February 2008
The strength of this film lies with Ted Crawford's (Hopkins) laid-back trivial manner. He sits doodling in court oblivious to what is being said, but it is all carefully calculated. The articulate engineer who calmly shot his wife and admitted it to the arresting officer, whilst with a gun in his hand and subsequently signs a written confession - is surely going down for the crime.
Willy Beachum, the confident and cocky attorney accepts the case after Ted asks for it to go straight to trial with no defence team required. He struts into court as if it's his territory - certain the trial will be over in minutes. It soon becomes apparent that Ted has a plan - he pleads `not guilty', through careful orchestration he ensures there is no evidence against himself. From the initial certainty he will go down for the murder of his wife, it looks as though he's going to get away with it.
You can see that he is revelling in the frustration of Beachum, he plays mind games - speaking in symbolic anecdotes. Parallels have been drawn to Hannibal Lector, and you can see why. For the start there's a feeling of calm genius at work, his composure his disturbingly unemotional and you sense his fun at toying with others.
The film needs a worthy Nemesis for Crawford - and Ryan Gosling is convincing as the `best in the business' young and talented attorney. The interactions between the two are darkly humorous and tense. It's these moments which provide the films best scenes.
In a nutshell: The film is very enjoyable, from the first few minutes I was drawn in by Hopkins' cool as a cucumber manner and felt a compulsion to watch in order to see if he would be brought to justice or not. The film doesn't necessarily stay with you much after you've seen it - but for the duration, it's magnetism will draw you in like an iron filling to a fridge magnet.