Robert Redford directs this gripping historical drama that follows the efforts of young lawyer Frederick Aiken as he reluctantly defends Mary Surratt, a Confederate sympathizer accused of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. (Netflix)
So, my very first impression of this movie came with the cast list. The very eclectic, yet impressive list of actors include James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Alexis Bledel, and Jonathan Groff. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I guess I just wouldn’t expect all of them to be in a movie together. All that being said, collectively as an ensemble, they were impressive. Bledel’s character was a little too one dimensional for me, but she did the best she could with it. Groff was slick and cunning, Long was his usual characters, just in 1865, but he made the adjustment well. Kevin Kline and Evan Rachel Wood both did fantastic jobs as Secretary of War Ed Stanton and Anna, Mary Suratt’s daughter. I was just massively entertained by both of their performances. Then you have Robin Wright as Mary Suratt and James McAvoy as Fred Aiken, the lawyer. Both of them deliver really well done performances Individually, they were excellent. The only problem with them came from the movie itself. Some of the scenes were very drawn out and slow paced, and those parts most likely contained one or both of them. So, not entirely their fault though. As for the movie itself, it highlights a time when the justice system failed. It was a case of revenge, not justice, as McAvoy’s character frequently points out. That is all extremely obvious in the court room scenes. Obvious under the table dealing, Aiken using every stretch of the law correctly and still failing. Down to the fact that all of his objections were overruled and all of the prosecutions objections were sustained. (A nice touch, I might add). Overall, a movie that honestly, Americans should really see. For me, it rings true today as it did in 1865.