Robert Redford’s newest picture plays like the JFK of the Civil War. The Conspirator focuses on the defense attorney of a woman accused of assisting in the assassination of President Lincoln. This woman, perfectly portrayed by Robin Wright, is innocent, but the court is determined to judge against her.
As interesting as the story is, I was sad to find how slow the film began. It begins with an assassination scene following the deeds of John Wilkes Booth, which already has been done the same way in numerous other films. Then we meet Mary Suratt, an innocent woman prosecuted so that America may be able to accuse someone of the death of their leader.
What ensues is a gripping, delicious courtroom drama dedicated to documenting a hideous obstruction of justice. Unlike JFK, The Conspirator does not reveal new information while we find the truth, but instead, we are shown the truth and how it was deliberately shunned. Such injustice can be frustrating to watch, but Redford handles it with striking maturity.
At times, the film can be very draining; it appears to be a losing battle. But amazingly, The Conspirator keeps us hooked. It is difficult to predict, but easy to follow, just how a good, old-fashioned courtroom drama is supposed to be.
I originally had no intentions of seeing this movie. Not to say that it did not appeal to me, but that I had never heard of it. I admired Redford’s directorial effort, Quiz Show, and after first hearing of a local showing of his new film, I was, in fact, intrigued. I am glad I went, because what I found was one of the most worthwhile films of the year so far.