Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This courtroom drama follows the defense of Mary Surrat who operated the Washington DC boarding house where Abraham Lincoln’s assassins concocted their plot in 1865.
As a serious physical reproduction of an American historical period this film has few if any equals. Filmed in Savannah, Georgia the houses, interiors, exteriors, and costumes reek of reality. The actors’ performances are superb, led by Robin Wright and James McAvoy. But everyone is good as the intelligent script unfolds.
What Redford displays is a military tribunal that was bound to convict at a time when the country was demanding revenge. In that situation Constitutional niceties were set aside just as today so many citizens resent the extension of legal rights to those accused of unpatriotic or terroristic attacks. But Redford is not overly lecturing in his approach; he lets the story unfold and in the process we draw our own conclusions.
It’s an intelligent film. I’d like to see more made like this.
Review copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald