He has directed, starred in, and partially scored this movie that can't for a second be separated from his personality.

TRUE CRIME

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


True Crime is a tight suspense thriller driven by Clint Eastwood's colossal ego. He has directed, starred in, and partially scored this movie that can't for a second be separated from his personality. Eastwood, the director, has shown great generosity to his actors by encouraging them to create substantial characters. They respond with good performances that deliver laughs along with white-knuckle tension.

As for Clint Eastwood, the actor, those of us who love him can only hope that he sees this role as a deliberately outlandish take-off on himself. Those of you who don't love him should be warned that the legend of cool is approaching his 70th birthday and is still possessed by the need to exhibit his perfect upper chest nakedness, to come on to a 23-year-old reporter, and to make love to his boss's 30-something wife. It is a jarring sight. But let's not quibble. The man can do anything he wants-as long as he does it with a big wink. As he ages though, the wink needs to be stronger. It's barely visible here, and that diminishes him.

Eastwood, the man, has a lot on his mind. He attacks fundamentalist Christians by creating a lying, despicable snake of a reverend. He rages at capital punishment by showing us the grim details of the execution of an innocent man. The man on death row is Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington, in a beautiful performance), loving father and husband, a man reformed after a life of petty crime by marriage and new faith.

The fate of the innocent lies entirely in the hands of Steve Everett (Mr. Eastwood), a womanizing, boozing investigative journalist hated by the associate editor whose wife he is bedding. Everett is the embodiment of Eastwood's celebrated anti-hero. He smokes, drives drunk, and indulges his adulterous whims while his wife smolders at home. A role model, he isn't.

The issues are neatly framed by fuming senior editor Alan Mann (James Woods) whose guiding principle is that "people want to read about sex and guns and blood." His exchanges with Everett are juicy battles of nasty inference, a lacerating and funny war of words. The editor knows that assigning Everett to conduct an interview with the condemned man for a standard human interest sidebar story is to risk an investigative conflagration. Somewhat refreshingly, Everett delivers his philosophy: "I don't care what is right or wrong, don't care about justice." "All I have," he says, "is my nose, and I use it to tell the truth." Not a bad creed for a reporter.

In a tornado of cliches, Everett races the clock and the execution needles in a windup that has long since obliterated any need for credibility. In spite of our better judgement, our hearts are thumping when the flag goes down for the last lap of this movie. It's a good old-fashioned moment that leaves us riveted, breathless, nearly shouting ,"Go, man, go!"


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 495
Studio : Warner Bros.
Rating : R
Running time : 2h7m


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