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Fracture (9/10)

by Tony Medley

OK, this movie isnít perfect, but it comes close. There are some plot holes and an attorney should get it right from the get-go. But, other than that, this is perfect. Itís not just that itís a terrific script (Daniel Pyne and Glenn Gers, from a story by Daniel Pyne), and that the acting by everyone, but especially Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, and Rosamund Pike, is superb. No itís not just that. What sets this film apart is that it is expertly directed by Gregory Hoblit (who made his directing debut with an exceptional conversion of William Diehlís bestselling novel, Primal Fear to the screen in 1996). I think itís maybe better than Hitchcock at his best (like The Man Who Knew Too Much, the second one in 1955 with Jimmy Stewart and the incomparable Doris Day; to be truthful, Alfred made a lot of duds). Hoblit creates tension through the setups and camera angles and music. And speaking of music, the music in this movie (Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna) is spectacular. Especially in the first half hour of the film where the music basically directs the action. You know you are in a thriller because of the music that is constantly wafting through each scene.

The story is pretty simple. Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz), the wife of Ted Crawford (Hopkins), is having an affair with an LAPD detective, Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). Ted doesnít like this so he shoots her in the head. The police come and Ted confesses.

Seems a pretty open and shut case, so Assistant D.A. Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling), who is leaving the prosecutorís office for a big time civil law firm, takes the case because it wonít take much time. Wrong. Ted is a crafty guy and he insists on defending himself. The rest of the film is the match of wits between Ted and Willy, as Willy gets involved with his new boss at his new firm, the beautiful Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike), which complicates matters as the trial doesnít turn out to be as simple as Willy had imagined. Epitomizing Willyís problem, he tells Ted, ďIím not going to play games with you.Ē To which Ted replies, ďIím afraid you have to, old sport!Ē And he was correct.

There are lots of twists and turns in the plot. The dialogue is smart and witty. All the while, Hoblit manipulates the ambience by the use of unconventional camera angles and the terrific music, so the audience is swept up in whatís happening and whatís going to happen.

I liked the settings of the film because they are so familiar. One of the opening scenes is Ted driving up the California Incline that connects Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica with Pacific Coast Highway, a street I see almost every day. Then he goes to the Miramar Hotel on Ocean Avenue and I pass by it constantly.

On the negative side, product placements are alive and well. The laptop computers used in the film all prominently display the Apple logo.

Thatís a minor complaint. This movie is such fun, I feel sorry for those who miss it.

March 30, 2007