“The Chicago 7 Trial” looks at the judicial farce against militants at odds with the Vietnam War in 1968. And it has one of the best castings in memory.
You may have seen a lot of courtroom, “jury trial” movies. Of 12 men in conflict, a It will be justice, The The power of Justice (Coppola lowered the ceilings of the precinct each time the trial progressed, so that oppression was felt on the jurors …).
Y The Chicago 7 trial It will make you experience different feelings: irritation, but also pleasure, anger and joy.
Who knows if the words were spoken like this by the real characters. “They judge us for who we are, not what we did”, “We demonstrate peacefully every four years” (by electoral vote), and “It is the first time that they judge me for my ideas”. It will not be for nothing that the best lines of dialogue, those that remain rattling in the head, are the character of Sacha Baron Cohen, which is an associate producer.
Aaron Sorkin (the series West Wing; Oscar for the script of Red social) is a great screenwriter, a supreme dialogue writer. Sorkin makes the word his main banner. And it is not bad, more in a film about a real -but incredible- trial in which the accused have little hope of not being convicted.
Is that the trial seems to have its sentence before started. 1968. Richard Nixon has just assumed the presidency of the United States, and this trial is “armed” of 8 suspected of having initiated attacks on the police when, before the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August, they marched to ask for the end of the war in Vietnam.
The defendants are university students, a leader of a neighborhood movement, some Black Panther, a couple of hippies.
And speaking of trial, the judge (Frank Langella) seems to have lost it long ago.
It is, yes, a judicial film, an apparent thriller covered with notes of scathing comedy, if you can make humor of a real event as incredible as that of the assembly of a trial with exclusively political purpose.
Sorkin had already written the script for Matter of honor, with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson, so he knows what it is like to face witnesses and lawyers, to take the dialogues on a stand to a limit, and to judge with the intrigue of what and how he is going to replicate one or the other.
The director’s position is clear in the sense that he has the good guys and bad guys sitting on one side and the other of the room, but fortunately it strains -and with suspense- what really happened between the accused during those days of the Convention democrat.
The trial … opens now, in times of #BlackLivesMatter, and even though he shot it last year, you can’t stop looking at it with your eyes in the present.
With all this, it is clear that The Chicago 7 trial fits like a glove in the (renewed?) taste that the Hollywood Academy fosters, making it very likely one of the 10 films nominated for the Oscar. There are 6 months to go before the award ceremony, but it is difficult for him to miss the one with the best original script.
The film has one of the best castings, the choice of actors for each role is perfect, so it is difficult for the SAG, the actors’ union, not to give it the award for best ensemble.
Consciousness – that little voice that from Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio nests in many Hollywood productions, and if it is not made very evident it has better effects – it is there embodied in a character that we are not going to reveal, but that the more or less observant viewer will discover it immediately.
Frank Langella is a master of acting and as Judge Hoffman he teaches a class. It’s very easy to hate him, sure, but the actor who wasDracula and remains a glory of Broadway fulfills one of the many great jobs in the film, alongside Mark Rylance, the aforementioned Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eddie Redmayne or the eternal secondary John Carroll Lynch.
And I fall short.