Hollywood's been churning out a fair bit of political and historical dramas, and The Conspirator is one that will delight history buffs, with the debut film by The American Film Company that is set out to make films based on America's past with dedicated accuracy. Directed by Robert Redford, this film boasts a star studded cast with the likes of James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long and Tom Wilkinson amongst others that revolves around the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and the aftermath trial of the conspirators involved. The titular character refers to Robin Wright's Mary Surratt, a woman whose boarding house was used by her son and his friends who turn out to be involved in the plot, and gets put on trial for something she may or may not have committed or be privy to.
It's a close examination into civil liberties and how the legal system, at least in the US, has progressed from an unfair trial that was allowed to proceed given the extraordinary circumstances and the environment that's at the beginnings of nation building and national reconciliation, about how absolute power can corrupt absolutely, and for those who have not seen one, how a kangaroo court can be in action. Prejudices and dead set mindsets become the order of the day to battle against, and it's up to even Mary Surratt's lawyer, played by McAvoy, to battle those of his own, before he can continue with this assigned case and convince others though the presentation of facts, and through the puncturing of holes in the accounts of other so called witnesses.
It's thought provoking and engaging at the same time, with beautiful art direction transporting you back into the early years of America's history. For those expecting an intense courtroom drama you'll not be left disappointed, but do taper your expectations since this is presented and fought in a military court (even though it involves a civilian) and being innately one-sided don't get too overly worked up. It points out the merits of being on trial by a jury of your peers and also the pitfalls on how such a system may allow for the guilty to be free, if convinced and manipulated so convincingly.
You can read my review of The Conspirator at movieXclusive.com by clicking on the logo below.