One of the joys I have in going to the movies is uncovering those hidden treasures that get obliterated by the major studios’ latest “tentpole” picture. The Conspirator is one of two such movies I will be highlighting today.
So, one night I was watching Piers Morgan Tonight and he had Robert Redford on to discuss his latest directorial effort, The Conspirator. The movie is about the trial of Mary Surat for her role in the Lincoln assassination. Now, I have always had an interest in this subject, so I continued to watch. As the interview went on, Redford discussed the cast, which included Tom Wilkinson and Kevin Kline. Now I knew I had to go check this one out.
On Easter Sunday, I found myself driving home from a friend’s family afternoon and decided to see what was playing. When I saw The Conspirator had snuck in to theaters that weekend, my choice was obvious. I was not disappointed.
The movie never tries to convince you of Mary Surat’s innocence or guilt – rather it focuses on whether due process can be ignored in times of war. Now, most people think this is one of Redford’s ways of sticking it to Republicans over Iraq and Afghanistan, but in reality, we, as a nation, faced these same dilemmas during the Civil War. The main difference is that we did not have 24/7 news channels focused on them.
James McAvoy turns in a solid performance as the war-hero-turned-lawyer who is forced to defend Ms. Surat, despite his belief that she should hang from the nearest tree. Kevin Kline does a masterful job of showing the conflicting emotions of a man trying to hold a country together as the War Secretary. Almost unrecognizable, Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) plays the defendant, at times sympathetic and at other times, cold and calculating.
My advice: check it out on-demand or when it hits Blu-ray; sadly, it did not last long in theaters with the onslaught of summer tentpoles…