Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Release: The Lincoln Lawyer (minor spoilers)

Sometimes there are great movies because the acting is amazing.  And sometimes the story is so unique it blows you away just by expanding your mind a little bit.  Sometimes a movie is just so beautiful you just have to respect it as great.  However, The Lincoln Lawyer is none of these things, but it's still a great movie, which is why I saw it 3 days ago and the review is just coming now.

Matthew McConaughey is back to his serious fare (his shirt only comes off once I believe).  He plays Mick Haller, a defense attorney whose office is in the back of his town car, driven by Earl (Laurence Mason) because Mick lost his license (it never says, but I'm guessing for driving under the influence of something).  Mick  has a relationship with the local bail bondsman, Val (John Leguizamo), who throws him some lucrative cases.  That is how Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillipe) comes into Mick's life.  He's been accused of beating up and attempting to rape a woman.  He claims innocence and even guesses she might be a gold-digger looking for his money, since his mother's LOADED.  Mick takes the case (for a lot of money) and gets his investigator Frank (William H. Macy with lots of scruffy hair) to help and get all the dirt.

Mick's biggest worry is that he'll represent someone and not be able to tell whether or not they are truly innocent.  Most other attorneys (particularly for the defense) don't care about that - they just put on the best case they can to defend their client.  Mick wants to be sure it's also the best thing FOR his client.  However, Mick's as slick as they come - he gets bikers to do some dirty work by promising to represent their members, if he's not paid, he'll let you rot in jail, he cons his clients out of money.  But at his core, you still have to wonder which side he'll come down on when it actually matters.

His ex-wife (Marisa Tomei) is a prosecutor and obviously still in love with his charm and aging boyish looks.  They have a daughter together and these relationships show us the cracks in Mick's armor.  He has to represent dangerous clients, but always know that is family is safe.  And until he meets a pretty boy with a lot of money, he's never worried about it.  Louis Roulet is someone he has NEVER had to work for, and doesn't play by the same rules.

The legal issues being discussed are really great - what do you do if you know your client is much worse than he's being accused of?  How do you bring justice to his victims when you're bound by attorney-client privilege?  The movie takes us on this whirlwind tour with Mick, and you NEVER see it coming.  Very well made movie.  The entire audience gasped during one of the climax scenes.  Great movie theater experience.

The music and the close-ups make this movie feel real.  I've never been to Los Angeles (the setting) and I can't say I've listened to much rap or "gangster" music in my life.  But whatever the director (Brad Furman - hopefully going to do more great things) did, I felt like I knew these people, and these characters.  They weren't cliched (okay, asking his black driver Earl to get him a gun was both racist AND cliched) and the music worked perfectly to bridge the gap between scenes.

This is probably evident from the trailer alone, but being able to come up with a title as unique and simple as The Lincoln Lawyer is not a common occurrence these days.  Mick wants to be just and a little bit noble - like our former president, but he also does all of his business from a Lincoln town car.  I will say, having a title that drives (pun intended) you into the story is something I gotta say I like.

A note about the marketing of this movie - they got it right on the money.  The trailer shows you what the movie's about, but doesn't give you the best lines or scenes.  One scene from the trailer is not even in the movie, but is exactly a tone the movie uses.  Several of the scenes are much more complex than the trailer lets you in on.  For a nice change, you can find out whether this movie will interest you (it should), but not have a clue about the film itself.

Finally - 4.5 of 5 stars/lambs


Cat said...

I enjoyed it so much. Successfully suspenseful and character-driven. Of course, it's easy to love a movie when you love your company seeing it!

Jess said...

It was so much the better for having watched it with you! Love you babe.