Monday, May 21, 2007

Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike, Billy Burke

"If you look close enough, you'll find everyone has a weak spot"

Cinema 6, Galleria


The trailer for "Fracture" practically reveals everything about this thriller. It is marketed as an open close case with a twist but the film makers also piqued our interest by suggesting things aren't as easy as they seem in this murder mystery. If it was, then why bother watching it, right?

Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins), a wealthy aeronautics engineer shoots his wife at close range after he discovers her affair. He confesses to the detective in charge, is arrested then arraigned for trial. Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) is a young public defender with a foot out of the door as he embarks on a his new career in a private law firm. He takes the case assuming it was an easy one to handle but ends up embroiled in something more that he bargained for.

Without revealing much of the plot and its neat little twist towards the end, let me point out the main draw(s) for this average film. It is the two lead stars who essayed their roles with credible conviction. Anthony Hopkins as the wily and cunning perpetrator of the 'perfect' crime was brilliant. He does have a tendency to mumble some of his lines in his other movies but surprisingly and pleasantly so in "Fracture" he delivered his dialogue with a clear diction and sharp eloquence. His portrayal of Crawford as this beguiling aeronautics engineer was at best cunningly smooth with traces of menacing demeanor. His shifty eyes, his eloquent play with words all framed in a subtle almost creepy demeanor gave him the edge over his other co-stars.

Ryan Gosling impressed me with his role in "Murder by Numbers" but totally repulsed me in "The Notebook" and I have yet to see him in his Oscar nominated role as a teacher in "Half Nelson". Here he is a young ambitious and somewhat arrogant attorney named Willy Beachum and he was effectively good. He didn't come across as too forceful yet at the same time, neither was he a weak character on screen. He was just right for the role. It is interesting to note how Willy's character developed from a complacent attorney whose mind wasn't wholeheartedly in the case to that of an ethically moral person who decides to pursue Crawford relentlessly to enforce justice and bring proper closure to the crime.

The scenes which make the most impact are the repartee between Gosling and Hopkins. Granted that they will naturally have scenes together because he is the opposing counsel in the case, it was nonetheless refreshing to watch these two good actors 'battle' it out on screen. Neither of them chose either consciously or unconsciously to steal the scene from the other. Good chemistry and rapport maybe a sign of respect between the two actors shone through the film. No hysterical over the top acting just pure exchange of adroit straight to the point delivery of dialogue.

It is directed by Gregory Hoblit who also pegged that visceral courtroom drama "Primal Fear" which in my book launched the career of Edward Norton. "Fracture's" thin story line does have its weak points like a romantic angle between Gosling and Rosamund Pike which fizzles out even before it begins. Certain questions do abound, but overall the little twist in the end seals the deal. This film isn't exactly as gripping as a John Grisham courtroom drama but neither does it qualify as a bad episode of any of the Legal TV shows like "The Practice" or "Boston Legal". It takes its time to flesh out the characters. The plot moves at a slow pace until the ending where everything starts to quickly make sense complete with loud thumping music enough to get your pulse racing. So I reiterate that the presence of two solid actors who portray complex yet contrasting characters is worthy enough to see this average crime thriller.

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