Quick recap: 12 guys ( some angrier than others) must decide whether a kid murdered his father.
Fun (?) fact: To increase tension, the first third of the movie is shot above eye level, the second eye level, and the third below eye level.
My thoughts: Although I hadn’t seen 12 Angry Men until a few nights back, the movie ran through my mind constantly when I sat on a jury a few years ago. More than anything else, I was terrified I would end up in the Henry Fonda role and have to defend my verdict against everyone else. I know some people are born into that role, but I’m definitely not. Luckily, the trial was about hazardous waste that leaked out of some expensive bags so I didn’t have to decide whether or not someone was murdered.
Cinema-wise (totally a word. Shut up.), this movie is amazing, maybe even one of the best. The acting is phenomenal, which it has to be because people talking is the only action that takes place. On the surface, it sounds like the most boring premise ever- two hours of men deliberating. But director Sidney Lumet managed to pull out off so well that even though I knew the ending, I was still on the edge of my seat.The camera angles mentioned above really brought out the claustrophobia and by the climax it felt like the walls were moving in on everyone.
12 Angry Men is lauded as the perfect movie to showcase that the justice system can work. But to me, it was terrifying to imagine how many juries are without a Henry Fonda.And how, even though there were some very angry men, most of them were at least a little open to hearing the opposite side. It’s a nice fantasy, but real life is much more messy. I try to be somewhat optimistic about humanity, but nothing squashes that quicker than sitting in a pool of jurors and listening to person after person give bullshit excuses as to why they can’t serve. I know that’s the whole point of jury selection, to actually choose people who will listen and make a good judgement, but it’s disheartening to know how many people don’t take the responsibility seriously. On an even more terrifying aside, it occurred to me halfway through the film that what if the kid was actually guilty and Henry Fonda is about to convince a group of people to let a murderer free? It goes both ways, I suppose.
Final review: 4/5. It was a little schmaltzy at times, but overall very well done and about as exciting as 12 men arguing can get.
Up next: The Jerk