Find Me Guilty (2006)
Germany / English
"Sometimes the best defense. . . is a wiseguy.
"Based on the true story of Jack DiNorscio, a mobster who defended himself in court for what would be the longest mafia trial in U.S. history.
Funny and Entertaining Courtroom Drama
I had the chance to see the movie at the Berlin Film Festival (actually
I saw it twice), and I must say I really loved it. Even during the
second screening I still thought it was interesting and funny.
Granted, I like both Sidney Lumet and Vin Diesel so I may be a bit
biased, but the audience in the cinema seemed to like the movie too,
because after both screenings they applauded.
The movie is a courtroom drama based on real events. The film depicts
the longest Mafia trial in NYC history, and most of the dialog is taken
from the original records of the trial. In 1987-88, some 20 members of
the Lucchese crime family, each with his own lawyer, were indicted on
some 76 charges ranging from criminal conspiracy to narcotics
trafficking. The trial went on for 21 months.
The film focuses on Jack DiNorscio, one of the accused mobsters (played
by Vin Diesel), who decides to defend himself. Even though he spent
half his life in jail he doesn't know much about legal proceedings and
mostly speaks what comes into his mind thus sometimes making fun of the
Actually I was quite skeptical if Diesel could pull it off. C'mon, we
all know him from some more or less mediocre action movies, so when I
heard he was cast in a Sidney Lumet movie, I was quite surprised, and
therefore even more eager to see him in this film. And yes, he is good.
He gained some weight for this role and has hair (a wig), so he looks
quite different from what you're used to.
During the Berlinale press conference Sidney Lumet said about Vin
Diesel: "People make the great mistake with action heroes. They think
that because generally the plots are simpler and their behavior is
one-note that they can't act. But most of the time they can." And
Diesel shows that he can act. With his charismatic persona he manages
to carry the movie pretty easily. He has to talk a lot during the film
which comes across very believable and authentic, and he shows a wide
range of emotions from happiness to anger to mourning to being
embarrassed to whatever.
The overall acting is really good, Linus Roache shines in his role as
prosecutor Kierney. Contrary to his "Necromonger" role in "The
Chronicles of Riddick" he gets a chance here to really show his talent.
The other supporting cast is also really fantastic. I'd like to point
out Peter Dinklage as lead defense attorney Ben Klandis, and Annabella
Sciorra ("The Sopranos") who is really great in her single scene as
DiNorscio's ex-wife. In this scene she goes through all the emotions
from anger to frustration to jealousy. The other supporting cast
consists of New York theater talent, as well as faces familiar to
anyone who watches crime shows on the tube.
The film itself takes place almost entirely in the court room, and
sometimes it drags a bit although it is not boring. It depends solely
on talking, there is no action whatsoever in the movie. As DiNorscio
joked around quite a bit during the trial, the film too is pretty funny
in parts, and the audience in the cinema laughed quite a bit.
All in all I recommend this movie. But I have to warn the action fans:
you might not like this film as it is a total change in comparison to
the movies Vin Diesel has done until now.
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