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Hungarian immigrant Mike Laszlo has done well for himself since arriving in the USA over 40 years ago after WWII's end. He is particularly proud of his daughter, Ann, a successful lawyer. Following the release of some secret WWII records by the Russians, Mike finds himself accused of being a notorious war criminal. He's convinced it's a Communist plot to discredit him and insists that Ann defend him in court.Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After the movie was released, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas' own father, Istvan Eszterhas, was accused of war crimes in Hungary for printing anti-Semitic editorials, and even organizing a book burning. When Istvan admitted the charges were accurate, Joe responded by publicly condemning his father, and disowning him as a parent, later writing that he never reconciled with Istvan, and refused to let him see his grandchildren right up to the point where Istvan died of natural causes. See more »
Quietly effective and touching courtroom thriller with very good performances
Jessica Lange is very good as Ann Talbot, a lawyer who takes up the task of defending her father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) against charges of Nazi war crimes. The charges are ridiculous to her at first, but she slowly begins to realize they might be true. Lukas Haas, giving an exceptionally bright-eyed and intelligent performance, plays Ann's 12-year-old son, who believes unquestioningly that his beloved grandfather is innocent.
Roger Ebert wrote that the father, while very well-played by Mueller-Stahl, does not devote enough time to helping us to understand his character, but I don't know that any film could do that for such a person. Mueller-Stahl and the script at least offer suggestions and let our imaginations do the rest.
I found this film, scripted by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Costa-Gavras, to be a quietly effective courtroom thriller (even though the idea of a lawyer defending her own father in this situation requires a high suspension of disbelief) and found the central drama of a woman discovering her father is, or at least was, a monster to be moving.
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