In discussing films, there might be spoilers. Sorry!

Monday, January 16, 2012

James McAvoy in The Conspirator ...

The critics reviews were not kind. The accusations of the director, Robert Redford, using history to push his own message seemed harsh. No one seemed to look at the performances, the costumes, the story in itself - which is moving enough to deserve its own film.

Because regardless of what the agenda for the film might have been or what any critic had to say The Conspirator was a masterpiece of film in both visual effects and stellar performances from Robin Wright, Kevin Kline and Tom Wilkinson, to name a few.

And of course, James McAvoy, carrying the film from it's opening war torn scene to the sad moment at the end when he realized his fight for justice had all been for nothing, the moment when he looks out the cell window and sees four nooses:

"There's supposed to be three ..."

McAvoy plays Frederic Atkins, decorated Northern war hero and defense attorney. With his own beliefs against the accused, Mary Surratt, pushed aside by his superior, Atkins is forced to take on the conspirator's case. From the onset he is reluctant to represent Mrs. Surratt and takes the case only at the insistence of his superior, played by Tom Wilkinson.

Seeing McAvoy play a period piece is, as we have seen, not out of the ordinary. Seeing him play someone other than a love interest, is. Though he starts off the movie engaged to Sarah Weston (Alexis Bledel) it was a relationship in the background that was not able to withstand the prejudice of a slain president and the woman on trial for the planning of that assassination. Atkins stayed true to his duty as lawyer while friends, associates, - even the woman he loved- turned from him, leaving him alone to face the hardships of a trial stacked against him, one hell bent on a guilty verdict from the get go.

McAvoy plays Atkins as he plays all his characters: with thoroughness that creates a fictional characters in 3 D reality. He becomes Atkins and he takes the viewer with him, showing us a side of American history we may not already know.

The Conspirator, a beautifully executed film, worthy of the director, the cast and anyone else who was a part of bringing it to the screen.

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