Thursday, August 25, 2011

august MOVIE MEME, day 25: favorite legal drama

The legal drama subgenre can typically go one of two ways - it can come off dry and been-there, done-that, or it can revive the group with a refreshing perspective on the courtroom-based big-screeners.

Dead Man Walking (1995, dir. Tim Robbins) - Now, it doesn't spend the bulk of the movie in the courtroom, but it has a great deal to do with the legal system.  Dead Man Walking is an insanely good character study for its two leads.  Sean Penn has never been better than as the convicted brutal murderer title character - it's a hugely difficult role to portray, but Penn embodies the character fully.  And Sarandon is at the top of her peak as Sister Helen Prejean, the nun who's going through a huge crisis of conscience as the vicious killer's spiritual counsel.  There's nothing dry or has-been about Dead Man Walking. It's performances are impeccable, the screenwriting is inspired, and Robbins' direction is careful and thoughtful.  On top of all this, unlike many legal dramas, the movie ages incredibly well.


TomS said...

"Dead man Walking" is a terrific choice.

There are a lot of dramas with a legal element that I really loved, and are among my favorites: "My Cousin Vinny", "The Verdict", "A Place in the Sun", "Capote" and "In Cold Blood".

My all-time favorite might be "Anatomy of a Murder", 1959, with James Stewart, George C. Scott, and Lee Remick. Great performances, gripping screeenplay and a jazzy score.

Andrew K. said...

Never really thought of this as a legal film, but I do adore. Susan and Sean are sublime...and Tim's work here is impeccable.