Director Alan J. Pakula (The Parallax View, All the President's Men, Klute) yet again offers a study of paranoia in this exceedingly well-made version of Scott Turow's best-selling novel. Presumed Innocent is an ensemble courtroom drama that offers uniformly fine performances, ranging from Brian Dennehy's bullying, burnt-out chief prosecutor to Paul Winfield's street-smart judge. It is class from top to bottom. Pakula paints with somber burgundy hues and restrained performances an understated, adult portrait of a morally infected universe. It's ironic that every major character in Pakula's world of corruption and twisted relationships suffers from a physical or moral defect. Literally, no one escapes untainted. Especially noteworthy is Raul Julia's quiet, compelling performance as defense attorney Sandy Stern. Capable of booming performances, Julia underplays terrifically as a man whose eyes quietly prey for weakness. Like Brando in The Godfather, it's a performance entirely of gestures and nuance that offers glimmers of his coiled power. If there's a real weakness in Presumed Innocent, it is in Harrison Ford's performance as a prosecutor accused of murder. Ford gives himself a bad haircut and plays his character's intensity and explosive temper well, but lacks enough ambiguity to make you really believe that he could be guilty of murder. Still, like The Russia House, which was also made in 1990, Presumed Innocent is an ensemble piece that turns a well-written novel into a very fine and compelling film.
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Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford) is a bland, oppressed man who burns with a quiet, corrosive intensity that can flare uncontrollably. A Philadelphia prosecutor, Sabich's fire seems to have one outlet: his job. He loves prosecuting people. Otherwise, his life is dead-ended. He has a loveless marriage to a neurotic woman (Bonnie Bedelia) and an overbearing boss (Brian Dennehy) in a labyrinthine law enforcement world of corruption and twisted relationships. Then Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi) comes into his life. Lovely and seductive, Polhemus easily entices him to break his marital vows, but she schemes to get him to try for his boss' job. When he refuses, she leaves him. When she turns up dead, the victim of an apparent rape-murder, clues begin to point to Sabich. His blood type almost perfectly matches that in the semen found in the victim, carpet fibers at the crime scene match those found in his house, and most damning, his fingerprints are found on a beer glass in Polhemus' apartment. His protestations of innocence ignored, Sabich is put on trial for the murder and hires his biggest adversary (Raul Julia) to defend him. ~ Nick Sambides, Jr.
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|Source:||Warner Home Video|