John Grisham's favorite dish seems to be racial controversy, this time set
Southern-style with all the fixin's. The recipe is soulfully simple: start
with some good ol' white bigotry, (beer, trucks, confederate flags, and
the rape of a 10 year old black girl). Mix in the subsequent reaction of
her father (Samuel Jackson), who publicly guns down the two white rapists.
Simmer for a while on the controversial court case, with Hollywood's freshest
face (Matthew McConaughey) heroically defending his seemingly doomed black
client. Season with a whole mess of press, Ku Klux Klan activity, black
demonstration, riots, and the arrival of the National Guard. And garnish
with Sandra Bullock, gobs of near-adulterous sexual tension, and an almost
pornographic amount of sweat beading on all the actors. It's mmm-mmm good.
It doesn't get much better than this.
This film is great in that it's completely cavalier in its over-the-top-ness
and brilliant in its exercise of the power to persuade. "A Time To
Overkill", I'd call it. But even recognized overkill has its distinct
power, and I found myself shamelessly convinced by the film - in tears a
number of times. I lost. The movie won. I can call it whatever I want, but
the fact is... it made me cry.