27 March 2000 | fumbling towards ecstasy
Brooding, suspenseful, sometimes hard to understand
On the whole, I enjoyed this movie. Set in Germany, Liv Ullman is the defense lawyer for Maximillian Schell. Schell is accused of attacking an elderly man without provocation, although we later find out that the man is in fact a Nazi war criminal. The only hope for Schell may be Ullman's tireless search for justice.
Sometimes the movie is edited in such a way that necessary sequences seemed to have been edited out, for instance the first court scene seemed to jump from one point to the next, seeming to miss something in between the two. You'd see Liv Ullman saying something, and then the scene cuts to something which doesn't relate to what she had just been saying, creating confusion.
At times, the movie is highly frustrating - the court scene again, where the plaintiff's lawyer is basically badgering and shouting at defendant Maximillian Schell, and it kept making me want to tell the lawyer to shut up and leave poor Maximillian Schell alone. I know that this kind of behavior wouldn't be tolerated in American court, but the movie is set in Germany (I think, because to be truthful, no locations are ever mentioned except for the times that Ullman sets off for Hamburg).
There are problems with this movie, but they're not overwhelming. Overall I would recommend it, and Liv Ullman gives an outstanding performance.