The Conspirator

"Good"

The Conspirator Review


Robert Redford revisits the Lincoln assassination with this earnest historical drama. Being a relatively obscure chapter of American history, the story is pretty fascinating, although the film is so parched that it rarely comes alive.

After the President is murdered in 1865, inexperienced lawyer Frederick (McAvoy) is assigned to defend Mary Surratt (Wright), who is charged with conspiracy alongside eight others. As a war hero from the North, Frederick is horrified to get this job, but is convinced by his boss (Wilkinson) that she at least deserves a fair trial. Of course, in the hysteria following the war and assassination, that's not likely. The judge (Meaney) clearly takes sides, the prosecutor (Huston) is relentlessly arrogant and the war secretary (Kline) has already decided on a verdict and sentence.

The film lays out its present-day relevance early with comments about "suspending the Constitution" in times of war, scapegoats to assuage the public, and government and media propaganda that makes sure everyone in the country believes the accused is guilty before any evidence has been presented.

Frederick gets the brunt of this prejudice, so of course his girlfriend (Bledel) and closest friends (Long and Dale) doubt his loyalties.

While this helps the story's themes resonate more strongly, it's done rather heavy-handedly. And Redford directs the film as if he was shooting it through clouds of dust. In other words, it couldn't be much more worthy if it tried, and often feels dry and over-serious, with rare moments of levity or earthiness that feel forced and sometimes anachronistic. Instead, lofty speeches abound as Frederick points out the injustice of this wartime system. Mary even offers a key point, noting that her accusers are "so blind with hatred that they can't see the truth".

Fortunately, the cast members give the characters life beyond the history lesson. McAvoy is extremely sympathetic as the young guy standing up for principles against the current of popular opinion. Wright commands the screen with her raw intelligence. And the supporting cast includes fine work across the board, never letting the characters get lost in their stirring dialog and impeccably tailored period costumes.



The Conspirator

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th April 2011

Box Office USA: $11.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $11.5M

Budget: $25M

Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

Production compaines: American Film Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 93 Rotten: 75

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Brian Peter Falk, Bill Holderman, , , , Webster Stone

Starring: as Anna Surratt, as Frederick Aiken, as Edwin Stanton, as Mary Surratt, as Sarah Weston, as Nicholas Baker, as Reverdy Johnson, as Lewis Payne, as John Wilkes Booth, as Louis Weichmann, as Joseph Holt, as John Lloyd, as John Surratt, as William Hamilton, as David Hunter, as Capt. Cottingham, as Major Smith, Gerald Bestrom as Abraham Lincoln

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Advertisement
Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.