Citizen Verdict

2003

Drama

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IMDb Rating 4.4 10 476

Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Tessa Jubber as Student
Roy Scheider as Governor Bull Tyler
Armand Assante as Sam Patterson
Langley Kirkwood as Vince Turner

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by sam-1109 1 / 10

Quite frankly the worst movie I have ever seen

I am trying to think of a quality that this movie has that I admire. The concept was weak to start with, the plot abysmally developed, the acting shocking (can't you give a long rant in one take Jerry?), production, even sound far below par.

I am glad that I was watching on DVD so could easily skip straight to the predictable verdict, which I did only out of a morbid curiosity rather than actual interest. We were taking bets on what how the movie would pan out after that, and while technically I feel bound to say that it wasn't predictable, because none of us predicted it quite right, it was nonetheless, very lame.

We really didn't have the stomach for the self-congratulatory epilogue and switched off.

Reviewed by lastliberal 4 / 10

This is an atrocity. This is a travesty!

With the writers strike continuing, we might just be in for some schlock like this to fill the air until it is settled. I am not, of course, referring to the movie, although it is pretty bad, but to the concept that has a real murder trial on TV for three hours and then, for only $19.95, you can actually watch the execution. Of course, there will be an execution, as TV cannot resist the $250 that they will bring in.

It is interesting that they picked Jerry Springer to lead this show, and that it is set in Florida, second only to Texas for their blood-lust. They gladly spend $1.99 to vote to execute. After all, that saves them money that would be spent on wasteful things like health care and education.

Amand Assante just seemed to drift through the film until he is called upon to make a rousing speech at the end. It is wasted breath, as this would be an easy sell these days.

I won't recommend it, but you might want to watch it to see where we could end up if things keep going like they are. bring back the writers!

Reviewed by britishsteamwave 6 / 10

What if ... ??

The film ostensibly has an outrageous plot. For the last few years, TV audiences have been swamped with "reality shows". As Armand Assante's character Sam Patterson says: "You're not voting someone off an island: you're not evicting someone from a dormitory: you're banishing someone from the planet!". It is illusion versus reality. It is the ultimate "what if" proposition. What if the citizenry were to be able cast a vote on guilt or innocence in the manner that a jury does? I have problems with the basic hypothesis and hence with the film itself. You may as well have "Citizen Surgery", "Citizen Psychiatry" or "Citizen Dentistry" (I hope they're not going to be sequels - they'd have to be comedies if they're ever made) where anyone could put in their $19.95's worth. First and foremost, you would be allowing people who might not be fit for all sorts of reasons to cast a vote, the only criterion being of whether the person in question can muster up $19.95 on their credit card to enable them to vote! People may be racially motivated; be prejudiced against a certain profession e.g. teachers. They may be mentally unfit and so on. That's why juries are screened as you can see in "The Devil's Advocate" (Al Pacino, Keannu Reeves). True that's open to manipulation but it's better than open slather. The story fails on its basic premise. It's interesting to revolve it as a speculation but no more than that. I sense the film-makers expected us to take it a little more seriously. One of the previous reviewers, nitatestock35 made a comment to the effect that he suspected that some of the people were not actors. The clue to an answer to this is in the final credits where it is revealed that Armand Assante himself was the interviewer. Most likely real interviews were conducted by Assante (probaly as an afterthought) which were then melded into the storyline to give the film a sense of verisimilitude which it desperately needed. There was indeed a judge in the interviews but also a defence lawyer as well as a District Attorney and a smattering of 'ordinary folk' with their various prejudices.

American jurisprudence is not my long suit but I cannot imagine any jurisdiction in the world allowing a court of first instance to be the final arbiter of a capital case. Any decision rendered by a single judge of lower would be taken to an appellate court. No lawyer/attorney/solicitor/barrister worth his salt would be content with an adverse verdict and would appeal the decision perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court of America or in Australia's case, the High Court. Is this one of the "loose story threads" mentioned by others. Of course the 'deus ex machina' employed by the scriptwriters in introducing damning videotape (which it is also suggested would have been inadmissible under those circumstances in a real court case) obviates the more subtle nuances of court procedure. The tape brings the trial to a grinding halt and we don't have to think about the byways of the appeal process.

Raffaelo Degruttola gave a sterling performance as a violent schizophrenic time-bomb whose cloak of calmness is easily torn away. But if he hears voices, as he says he does after admitting to the murder, should not psychiatric evaluation been available to him. Are schizophrenics executed regardless in America? The execution scene is harrowing. One of the most interesting characters was Carlene Osway played by Dorette Potgieter, a beautiful blonde girl in the Finnish style, whose outer beauty is counterbalanced by an inner moral bankruptcy and void. Bad people are almost always the most interesting. Indeed ironically she uses her beauty to further her ignoble pursuits first turning up unannounced to Sam's yacht (please don't tell me it's a ketch or yawl, I'm not strong on boats either) dressed like "stripper" to help him but who eventually ends up in Marty Rockman's spa-pool and bed. This is a girl who wants to get to the top in the shortest time possible. She definitely 'stoops to conquer'. I don't watch the Jerry Springer Show for reasons you can guess at. I thought, despite other comments to the contrary that his performance (and he's no stranger to the camera lens) was creditable ending in his penultimate scene where his diatribe on his perceptions of reality are summarised as he declares TV to be the present God. The scene is skilfully edited into a melange of overlapping and interlocking images reinforced by the crescendo of clashing music chords giving the viewer a surreal insight into the distempered mind of a megalomaniac corrupted by power and money.

The film was entertaining enough but I cringe at the preachy proclivities of some American directors. After delivering a speech to law graduates on the incorruptibility of law (ha-ha!), Sam sails off in his 'boat' emblematic no doubt of the American ship of state on the vast blue ocean of hope and promise. But just in case we didn't get the point, or perhaps it was slipped in gratuitously for us foreigners, we are treated to the strains (and I do mean strain, the tenor barely made the high notes) of "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord" and I was seriously wondering whether I was expected to stand up in my lounge-room and put my hand over my heart. Well! that's it! Having sung that, we're all better now! Nothing could ever go wrong again, they would have us believe. But it doesn't work. For all its imperfections, it is still a mild diversion which really doesn't offer any answers and if you can as Coleridge exhorts to bring yourself to accept a "willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith", then the film viewed as an diversion rather than a didactic vehicle, stands the test as entertainment.

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