15 November 2016 | blanche-2
preparation for a trial
If you're thinking this film is about the trial of Phil Spector, it isn't. It does, however, contain a lot about preparing for the trial.
Helen Mirren is Linda Kenney Baden, who reluctantly takes on the murder case of Phil Spector, who is accused of killing Lana Clarkson in his home. Spector claims it was suicide.
Baden reluctantly finds herself believing him, as she performs a series of experiments that to her prove he could not have done it. Though trying to talk with Spector is very difficult, she also finds herself liking him.
This is a good character study, if a little on the slow side. It would have been dreadful without Mirren and Pacino, however. Pacino plays Spector as a pathetic has-been who brags about his past accomplishments as he sits isolated in his home,"The Castle." He loses his temper often and goes off on tangents. "Would I have lost everything for her?" he asks Mirren about Clarkson. Because of his crazy behavior and history with guns and women, Spector is in a lot of trouble.
The film brings us through the mock trial and Baden's attempts to have Spector take the stand to see if he can do it. It's a disaster. On the day of the trial, he shows up in a huge fright wig and looks terrifying. Baden has her work cut out for her.
Mirren is wonderful as a woman with a cold that turns into pneumonia who is nonetheless vigorous in her defense. The best scene is when she receives a suggestion from an associate. To illustrate a point, she shows a young attorney the yellow piece that used to go in the middle of a .45 record - he doesn't know what it is. She shows him a .45 record and he guesses, "something for the computer?" She turns to her associate and says, "None of these people are going to know what you're talking about." Mirren is masterful.
In the end, which is not part of the movie, the first trial was a mistrial, but Baden could not take part in the second trial and he was convicted.
This HBO movie is worth seeing for the performances. It is slow at times, but then again, it's not very long.