The Whole Truth

2017-06-10 08:51
 

What it's about:

Defense attorney Richard Ramsay takes on a personal case when he swears to his widowed friend, Loretta Lassiter, that he will keep her son, Mike, out of prison. Charged with murdering his father, Mike initially confesses to the crime. But, as the trial proceeds, chilling evidence about the kind of man that Boone Lassiter really was comes to light. While Ramsay uses the evidence to get his client acquitted, his new colleague, Janelle, tries to dig deeper—and begins to realise that the whole truth is something she alone can uncover.

What we thought:

The Whole Truth is the sort of film that would make for a very fine two-parter in your average network legal drama but seems completely out of place on the big screen. That it has a number of relatively big names, including the always bankable Keanu Reeves, does little to shake that feeling – especially in this new golden age of TV where shows like Big Little Lies, Twin Peaks or Fargo feature some serious A-list talent.

There's just nothing about what's on display here that's even remotely cinematic. The direction by Courtney Hunt is fine but it feels distinctly televisual, which is backed up by the fact that most of her directorial credits to date have been on small-scale TV projects. Screenwriter Nicholas Kazan has a rather more illustrious big-screen career, being part of the famous (and occasionally infamous) Kazan movie dynasty, but the fact that he is credited under the pseudonym Rafael Jackson probably says something about how he feels about the end product. 

All that said, though, while there is nothing extraordinary about the end product, it is nonetheless a perfectly serviceable legal drama with solid supporting performances from once-big names like Renee Zellweger and Jim Belushi and up-and-comers like Gugu Mbatha-Raw, along with enough mystery and narrative twists and turns to keep things interesting, if not wildly compelling. 

Admittedly, Reeves is somewhat miscast in the lead role (he's even less convincing as a hotshot lawyer here than he was in the still massively entertaining Devil's Advocate) and some of those twists – especially the big one at the end – do come across as more than a little silly but it's still a solidly enjoyable, if almost impressively unremarkable, little film. 

Again, though, I have to ask: with so many critically lauded or at least interesting films never seeing the inside of a South African cinema, how on earth did this glorified episode of Law and Order earn a limited but still authentic cinematic release? It's perfectly fine but you will lose nothing by catching it on TV a little way down the while – indeed, its natural home will probably make it look a whole lot better than it does stretched across the big screen.

Read more on:    keanu reeves  |  movies

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