Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.
USA, 1996. Castle Rock Entertainment, Columbia Pictures Corporation. Screenplay by Lewis Colick. Cinematography by John Seale. Produced by Nicholas Paleologos, Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman, Frederick Zollo. Music by Marc Shaiman. Production Design by Lilly Kilvert. Costume Design by Gloria Gresham. Film Editing by Robert Leighton. Academy Awards 1996. Golden Globe Awards 1996.
Usually a terrible drama distinguishes itself from the good ones by being boring; not so with this empty-headed film from Rob Reiner. The proceedings are very easy to get through, but are given so little depth that they pass by your eyes without ever making an impression (one scene with the fabulous Margo Martindale is about the is an exception). Alec Baldwin does a fine job as a lawyer in knee-deep John Grisham-good-lawyer-vs-bad-Southern-bastards trouble when he reopens the case of Medgar Evars, a Civil Rights Activist who was murdered in the sixties by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith (James Woods), who in turn was acquitted by the jury at the time. Whoopi Goldberg is also effective as Evars’ widow, but Reiner never really gives her the chance to shine the way she so obviously needs to. Though Woods got all the attention for his fantastic and terrifying performance as de la Beckwith, the film really belongs to a scene-stealing performance by the best character actor in the business, William H. Macy. Based on a true story, this is yet another story of African Americans told from a white point of view; skip it and rent Malcolm X.