Presumed Innocent (1990)

Alan J. Pakula directs Harrison Ford, Raúl Juliá and Bonnie Bedelia in this courtroom drama where a prosecuting attorney finds himself investigating his work colleague and former secret lover’s murder.

Exactly my cup of coffee, even if it isn’t the best example of the form. Scott Turow’s source novel uses first person narration to obfuscate a ton of not unguessable twists and obvious red herrings… but on celluloid the amount of dead ends and coincidences can seem a little hokey within a two hour film. Pakula also doesn’t quite figure out how to keep megastar Ford in the spotlight for the second half… once he is charged with the murder and in the dock, he becomes a passive figure. His contributions to the investigation feel forced and his presence in the back room negotiations doesn’t always ring true. Luckily, that second half is far less objectionable and thoroughly sustained by the arrival of Raúl Juliá as his defence attorney. The whole ensemble reeks of class (look out for all those future The West Wing alumni) but Julia as always is something else. 30 years down the line you may now know who the killer is, or you may have forgotten, but the final moments add a chilling uncertainty to the happy-ish ending. Justice hasn’t been done and a killer knows you know what they did. End credits… oooooohhh! The autumnal look and the moral ambiguity of the whole entertainment now feels more like a later Fincher than a big studio release of the VHS era.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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