"Compelling Russian Theatre"
What You Need To Know:
12 has a well-crafted screenplay directed simply. It offers a wonderful platform for each performer to take center stage in gripping performances. Although reading subtitles may make the movie seem somewhat long, this is one of the more enjoyable movies to come out recently, especially for fans of classic theater. There is some strong foul language, however, some violent imagery and a light drug reference.
(Pa, B, C, Ab, AC, LL, V, S, A, DD, MM) Mostly mixed pagan worldview with elements of morality and positive questions of right versus wrong, justice versus grace and mercy, prayer depicted, but some racial hatred depicted against Chechens and Jewish people, some remarks about Communist Russia but not in a positive light; 14 obscenities and six profanities; violence includes some flashback imagery of urban war zones, people being gunned down by militants, verbal descriptions of rape and murder; sexual content includes mention of rape and man finds a young woman’s bra in a gymnasium locker and makes a lewd remark about it; no nudity; man tells story of being drunk but no depicted alcohol use; multiple scenes of depicted cigarette smoking and man gestures like he is sniffing cocaine and juror finds a steroid needle in high-school locker; and, stories and tales of murder, revenge, lying, and racism.
12, an 2008 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, is a brilliantly acted and well-made Russian movie loosely based on the classic film, 12 ANGRY MEN. Set in contemporary Moscow, 12 is the story of a group of Russian jurors who must unanimously decide the fate of a young Chechen accused of murder.
Cloistered away in a high-school gymnasium that is being used as a makeshift jury room, the jurors sit down for what should be a quick declaration of “guilty” over the young Chechen soldier. The evidence is overwhelming. The verdict should be made, as the bailiff tells the jurors, “in 20 minutes.” Eleven of the 12 jurors immediately choose to convict the young man, but one votes to acquit. The one dissenting juror has no reason for his vote other than the fact that he feels the others have acted too quickly on such a heavy decision.
For the next three hours, the jurors review the facts of the case, and they reenact the murder scene. As flashbacks reveal the accused boy’s journey through war-torn Chechnya, each of them vacillates on the young Chechen’s guilt or innocence as they individually monologue about their own conflicts and connections to the case in revealing and surprising ways.
12 is a brilliantly acted movie that echoes classic Russian theatre in the heritage of Anton Chekhov. With a well-crafted screenplay and simple direction, the movie offers a wonderful platform for each of the performers to take center stage in gripping performances. Although reading subtitles for 159 minutes may make the movie seem somewhat over-long, this is quite possibly one of the more enjoyable movies of the past year for fans of classic theatrical performances.
The movie does contain some mild objectionable content, including 14 obscenities and six profanities, as well as some violent imagery of war-torn Chechnya. Also, the movie has depicted cigarette use and gestures of drug use as well as some remarks about racial prejudices.
That said, the offensive content is mostly mild, and discerning viewers will be able to see past the mostly mixed humanist worldview and enjoy the positive elements of mercy, justice and grace. So, 12 is, all in all, one of the more enjoyable movies this year. Media-wise viewers, especially older teenagers and adults, may enjoy the stellar performances in this wonderful movie.