Friday, June 27, 2008

12 ANGRY MEN (Sidney Lumet, 1957, USA) Sidney Lumet makes a stunning directorial debut with this gritty, sweaty, emotionally charged drama about 12 jurors deciding the fate of an eighteen year old defendant charged with 1st degree murder; they carry the legal burden of deciding guilt or innocence but understand a conviction could lead to the death sentence. An exceptional cast of now legendary actors fall into character (we never even know their names, only juror number) and don’t miss a beat of dialogue or a camera cue…this film is nearly perfect in its direction. Most of the film takes place in the cramped juror’s quarters; Lumet is able to get his camera into these tight spaces and bring us up close and personal to the characters and feel their intellectual and emotional turmoil as they debate the facts and presentation of the trial. This important duty is influenced by their deep-rooted prejudices such as racism, feelings on immigrants and the poor, and their own family skeletons. Henry Fonda advocates for Justice and Reason and for all to consider the facts…not to just make a quick decision so they can make the Yankee game because a boy’s life hangs in the balance. I work in the local District Attorney’s Office and have experience in homicide trials so consider this: a jury is only supposed to consider facts and veracity of testimony presented at trial, not their own research and supposition. Did they mistakenly let a guilty man walk? Think about it. (A+)