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MOVIE REVIEW: The Conspirator

Court room drama, period piece that raises questions

  • The Conspirator
  • The Conspirator
  • Robin Wright as Mary Surratt in "The Conspirator."
  • (L-R) Robert Redford and James McAvoy on the set of "The Conspirator."
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Sometimes, movie critics watch multiple films in one day. The morning I saw The Conspirator was the same day I saw The Lincoln Lawyer. An odd coincidence, since The Conspirator is a story that deals with the lone female charged as co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The titles, though, seemed interchangeable.

It’s strange the amount of things we know about Lincoln, and so little about a woman that may or may not have conspired to kill the 16th president. Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright Penn) is involved in one of the biggest stories in our history. Everyone was against Surratt, even the lawyer assigned to represent her.

Perhaps it’s the first case in our history that deals with things that are debated today – dislike for defense attorneys, civilians being tried in military courts, and defendants not getting their Constitutional rights.

I enjoyed the legal questions it brings up, & the scenes where the defense attorney discusses the case with his girlfriend and friends, but there were too many heavy-handed moments. For some reason, during the boring segments of this film (and there were a few), I thought about how it was Robert Redford making it. It made me think scenes were being a little preachy, when if it was another filmmaker that did this, I might not have thought that.

I’m always fascinated in period pieces when some medical procedure is going on. In this, when we see bowls of blood being carried away from Lincolns bed, it’s powerful. I then thought about Ronald Reagan being shot in the lung, and how a quick trip to the hospital that saved his life.

This was almost a perfect cast. Tom Wilkinson was great in his small role; he’s incapable of a bad performance.Kevin Kline, the same. Stephen Root has the perfect face for this time period, and James McAvoy and Evan Rachel Wood were good. It was Justin Long’s face that I had problems with. It stuck out like a sore thumb, and made me think these guys were wearing fake facial hear and costumes as some Civil War reenactment or skit.

At two hours, I would’ve liked a little less of the Mary Surrat story and more about some of the other characters involved in the case.

The movie gets a C.