Thursday, 27 January 2011

Best Actor 1979: Al Pacino in ...And Justice for All

Al Pacino received his fifth Oscar nomination for portraying lawyer Arthur Kirkland in ...And Justice For All.

...And Justice for All is a very stupid movie, which hammers in its point very heavily with a blunt point. It strangely wants to be a serious court room drama but with wacky court room antics, and a wacky suicidal judge, now wacky and suicidal usually do not go together except in maybe crazy comedies, but they do in this movie. Now the movie is definitely stupid, but I will admit I sort of enjoyed it, despite many one dimensional characters, constant cliches, and its serious tonal problems.

Al Pacino plays a real crusading lawyer one that might just be a super lawyer. He cares about the real justice, the search for truth for everyone. He does not like miscarriages of justice, he does not like mistreatment of prisoners, he does not like mean judges to the point of punching them, and he does not like moral law commissions which do not go after the real problems within the system. Pacino actually is fine even if his character is really written in a very unspectacular fashion at the beginning of the film. Pacino has his work cut out for him to not make his character seem like a really pretentious jerk Well Pacino can't stop him from being still far too pretentious, but he makes him somewhat likable pretentious guy.

Pacino is fine with his dealings of the wacky court dealings in the first half of the film, from his comedic law partner, to freaking out on a helicopter ride with the suicidal judge (Jack Warden), to romancing a woman on that law commission he dislikes so much. All of the court dealings, and the romance especially are contrived in someway, but Pacino does do a fine job in keeping at least some sort of reality no matter how unrealistic some of the scenes can be. Pacino is never really amazing here, but it is interesting to see Pacino be able to do more of a star leading man performance which a little unusual for Pacino especially portraying such just a super guy like Arthur Kirkland.

The second half of the film just about everything that could go wrong for Arthur does go wrong for him. The film really lets Pacino's character have it here, ruining basically everything he is trying to do, and trying to ruin the character's whole career. Pacino is good as he slowly becomes more and more stressed out, due to everything basically crumbling around him, he shows his character's passion and sadness well, and I gotta say his pretentiousness really started to be less annoying closer to the end. Anyways the film sort of haphazardly leads to a big dramatic opening statement by Pacino. Pacino delivers the big scene incredibly well, and makes it a satisfying ending, even if it is a stupidly written one. Overall Pacino gives a good performance in a dumb movie.


Fritz said...

I haven't seen this one yet but Pacino in the 70s is almost always great.

dinasztie said...

Pacino is always great, though I barely remember this one.