Film review by: Witney Seibold



Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) finds his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davitz, looking as good as ever) cheating on him with a policeman (Billy Burke). Ted shoots his wife in the head, forcing her into a coma. When he goes to trial, his behavior is odd, a bit too overconfident and completely without guilt. The state lawyer he chooses to prosecute him is Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), a young hotshot who has a 97% success rate. Willy feels that it will be an open-and-shut case, and he can quickly move away from his friends in the state’s law offices to a private firm downtown, complete with vastly more money, higher-profile cases, and all the perks that come with a promotion, including a hot new boss played by Rosamund Pike. Of course, the case isn’t as simple as Willy thinks, as the cop on the scene of the shooting was also the cop Jennifer was having an affair with. Oops. Miscarriage of justice there.

Willy, normally content to pass on losing cases to others has a sudden attack of conscience. Well, not conscience per se, but he sense something is, well, off, about Ted Crawford. Crawford acts like a kindly old sage, and rubs it in that he did indeed shoot his wife, and there’s nothing the legal system can do to get him, what with a tainted arrest and no weapon handy. Eventually, Willy begins growing so concerned with this case, that perhaps he might be willing to sacrifice his job anywhere just to see it through.            “Fracture,” directed by Gregory Hoblit (“Primal Fear,” “Fallen,” “Frequency”) is more than a pat melodrama. It actually deals with real loopholes in the American legal system, and some of the ethical dilemmas some lawyers must face. But that’s as may be; that kind of stuff is dealt with on a tri-weekly basis on the various “Law & Order” series. What makes the film so interesting are the performances by the two leads. Anthony Hopkins, even in his slight roles, shows a kind of puritan work ethic lacking in most American performers. Ryan Gosling is proving to be one of the better actors of his generation, as his performance which shows a shallow man becoming whole, but in a real and harsh way, and not the contrived “movie moment” way.            The actors play off each other well, and the story drags us inside until we can feel the dilemmas and despair at the lowest moments. It’s a well-done legal thriller.             

My only real complaint is that the ending wrapped things up a little too neatly. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that the ending is very satisfying, and probably what most of us in the audience wanted, but left little room for the moral ambiguity and human ambivalence that made the rest of the film so strong.

 Also, keep an eye out for Zoe Kazan. She plays Willy’s sky-eyed cute-as-a-button co-worker, and only has a small role, but I learn that she is inded the granddaughter of Elia Kazan and daughter of Nicholas Kazan, both film directors.

Published in: on May 10, 2007 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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