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[personal profile] innocent_man
The Devil's Advocate is a late-90s horror/drama starring Charlize Theron (pre-Monster), Al PACINO!!!!, and Kenunu Reeves. Spoiler alert: Al Pacino is the Devil.

Kenunu is a lawyer in Gainesville, Florida, who has a slight crisis of conscience in the midst of defending a child-molesting teacher. He works through it, though, and manages to berate the guy's young accuser (Dawn Matazzaro) into saying something that sounds like she made it up, if you squint and are an asshole. He's then hired to come to New York and consult for the biggest law firm ever, run by the Devil Himself (here played by John Milton, here played by Al Pacino).

At first life is good; they're making money and living the high life, and Kevin (Reeves) still can't lose a case. But the demons around them (everyone's a demon, or at least a conduit) drive his wife MaryAnn (Theron) mad, and he decides that once he finishes this one case, he'll be there for her. By then, though, it's too late - she commits suicide in a psych ward, and his mother (Judith Ivey) reveals the truth - Milton is actually his father.

And then we get into the gigantic monologue of the end scene, where all involved (but mostly Pacino) scream most of the lines. Any first-year theater student can tell you that yelling =|= intensity or emotion, but eh. I like the scene and I like the dialog, I just wish he'd pull it back a little and let the words do some of the work.

Especially because of this bit:

Watch up until 1:00 (or the whole 2 minutes, if you want). The intensity he gets right there: "He's a tightass. He's a sadist. He's an absentee landlord. Worship that? Never." That works, and you can see the fury and betrayal in his face, and he actually does look hurt and betrayed for a minute there. It just tends to get lost with the rest of the screaming.

The fun of this movie is watching it twice, because when you get the context of it all, the things that Milton says and does just take on a different level. When someone brings up something petty and temporal - like money - he just kind of rolls his eyes. But when Kevin does something he didn't expect, he gets this look of interest, like, wow, these people still surprise me sometimes. He manages to evoke some sympathy for the Devil (haha), even as he's deliberately killing and driving people insane.

Reeves is Reeves. He manages some emotion at times, and I buy him as a lawyer who works the jury, rather than a lawyer who wins by being right. Theron is good in her supporting role, but she's really there to get fridged. Oh, and the movie passes the Bechdel because of scenes between Theron and the women/demons who are wives to the lawyers, so that's nice.

I enjoy the movie, and I'd kinda of like to see it remade with a different cast. Maybe someone playing the Devil who can handle a little understatement. Sarah suggested that Connie Nielsen's character should have been the Devil, and maybe that's worth exploring.

My grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Medium

Next up: The Devil's Backbone


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