Directed by Gregory Hoblit
Written by Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman,
based on the novel by William Diehl.
Starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton.
My advice: Rent it. Better yet, buy
it. I did.
Rating: out of
The brutal stabbing murder of the wealthy and powerful Archbishop
of Chicago kicks off this thriller. Fleeing the scene, covered with gore, is the only likely suspect, Aaron Stampler
(then newcomer Edward Norton), an ex-resident of the archbishop's charity home for pale young boys, "Savior
House" (only the very, very faithful Catholic will not suspect the obvious liaison).
Into what promises to be a very difficult murder trial comes
famed defense lawyer Martin Vail (Gere); leading the prosecution is Janet Venable (Linney), embittered veteran
of Vail's charms--in one of Primal Fear's sharper lines, Venable describes their relationship as a six-month-long
You don't watch a movie like this, you sink into it like a warm
bath. This movie is a reminder of the golden days of the Hollywood studios, when professional, well crafted B-picture
dramas like this came out once every six weeks or so. Then, as now, you have the characters (all of a piece); jurisprudence
details (improbable, sometimes highly improbable, but you'll buy it); and plot (and, oh, what a plot it is!).
The surprising good show Primal Fear has to offer is all contained
in what became Norton's career-making performance, and to discuss it would kill the surprise. I'm a dear lover
of plot twists and movies that leave me guessing. And a bigger lover of movies that fool me clear up to the fantastic
end. This is a must, must see for all of you who haven't seen it.