The Guilty borders on the edge of being an example of Neo Noir but doesn’t quite fit the attributes of the genre. Its good for an evening’s entertainment and worth while for the performances
I have been collecting films for a long while now. Sure there have been many a blockbuster but the real gems are to be found in the little gems. Often from independent films makers these films rarely do well at the box office but they are worth the time to watch. The Guilty is had the potential to be such a film. The Guilty will never be on any list of best films but it is well constructed although it fails just a little short.
The Guilty follows Callum Crane (Bill Pullman), is a successful and ambitious lawyer. He is at the top of his game. In fact, he has just been appointed as a Federal judge. As with most movie lawyers he is also a megalomaniac. Crane goes through life feeling his every desire is owed to him. This includes his sexual desire for a young woman that works in his firm, Sophie Lennon (Gabrielle Anwar). Crane winds up raping the young Lennon without a second thought the heinous deed. Lennon wants little more than for Crane to acknowledge the rape but instead she is fired shortly afterwards. Slowly she confides in her roommate Tanya Duncan (Angela Featherstone). Now, in another story line that parallels the main line a young man Connnor (Kurt Evans) is released from jail. He leaves his miscreant friends behind and sets out to find his biological father. One guess who the father is, that’s right, its Crane. What ensues is a fairly well done tale of revenge, suspicion and power. The plot moves along at a reasonable pace, holding your attention even though the plot is often muddy.
The actors were well chosen for The Guilty. Pullman is surprising good as the evil lawyer. This is a stretch for audiences more accustomed to seeing Pullman in comic roles or the heroic role he had in Independence Day. He plays Crane, a man that maintains control on the surface, barely maintains it. He’s in a loveless marriage, is loyal only to his own ambition and has a violent and evil nature that is rarely shown in his fullness. Anwar often looks like a deer caught in the headlights. She has an innocence about her that makes the audience immediately care about her character. Just as evil lies beneath Crane, there is a strength and determination that is at the heart of Sophie. While certain events overwhelm her she still remains true to her core beliefs. Featherstone is one of those actresses that pop up in a film when you least expect her. She was very good in 200 Cigarettes and here she continues to demonstrate a talent for character roles. While not central to the story she is one of the many threads that ties this film together. Her Tanya is loyal to her friend, supporting her in a difficult time. Evans floats through the film not charting his own course until the very last moment. This actual works in favor for the film since this was the perfect way to play this character. One breakout performance is by Jamiz Woolvett who plays one of Connor’s psycho friends. There is potential for a young Gary Oldman here. In a film with so many characters with more beneath the surface you need a straight out psycho. A character with no subtle nuances. Woolvett’s performance here also reminded me of Widmark in the 1947 Kiss of Death. You hate the character completely.
The director for The Guilty is Anthony Waller. Best known for his American Werewolf In Paris and the more recent Little Vampire, Waller has a good eye for direction. His use of second unit scenery provides a pacing to The Guilty that gives the audience time to absorb the somewhat complex plot. He frames the scenes well providing some good reaction shots as the characters interact. While this is the type of film that will wind up on cable late one night the conversion to pan and scan will ruin a lot of the work Waller has put into to his set ups. There is a wide variety of sets required for The Guilty. Everything from courthouses, penthouses, small apartments and out right dumps. Much to Waller’s credit he finds a way to light and arrange each set to provide a reasonable authentic feel to the film. Waller, perhaps best know for his writing, production and direction of An American Werewolf in Paris, has proven he can provide entertainment if not lasting greatness. Waller’s method for direction is extremely realistic. There are many scenes with contrast light and shadow, seemingly to help set the tone for the contrasts in characters portrayed in The Guilty.
The disc is respectable in quality. The video is non-anamorphic 1.85:1 and is clear, free of compression defects and exhibits no bleeding of the colors. The audio is Dolby 5.1. The rear channels are a bit under used, providing mostly ambient sounds. Studio Entertainment has taken care in the mastering but neglected what many people look for, added features. A commentary would have been appreciated but we are left with little more that a trailer. This film borders on the edge of being an example of Neo Noir but doesn’t quite fit the attributes of the genre. The Guilty good for an evening’s entertainment and worth while for the performances. Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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