Public defender Riley (Cher) is given an apparently hopeless case just before Christmas and some much needed holidays. Her homeless client Carl Anderson (Liam Neeson in a great performance) is a deaf-dumb veteran, on trial for murdering a young woman and stealing her purse, containing 9 dollars. Carl claims to be innocent and being a conscientious lawyer, Riley investigates the case, to discover that there might be a lot more to it. Enter cocky Eddie (Quaid), a lobbyist forced to take jury duty. Eddie starts helping Riley, even if this could get her disbarred, since members of the jury must not have contacts with the lawyers. The fourth main character of the story is Judge Helm (Mahoney), a sourpuss judge who seems very edgy about the case, and very much disliking Riley. The story is multi-layered: we get to take a look at the homeless and their daily struggle to survive in opulent Washington; we get Riley and Carl's relationship, a mix of pity and anger; we also have Riley and Judge Helm subtle conflict and finally a mild romance between Riley and Eddie. This does not take too much screen time, but it is nicely suggested. Cher proves she can act. Everything is perfect about her character, from her wardrobe of comfortable clothes and outfits casually put together for the courtroom, rather than classic suits, to the weariness of her behavior. Quaid is also good as the cad with a conscience. Neeson is menacing, disgusting and pitiful as the veteran. A trio of actors in great form and a solid courtroom drama with some action. I am surprised this movie did not get more recognition.
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A legal team defending a homeless, mute man of murder, find a web of corruption that may have dangerous implications.
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April 7, 2019