What You Need To Know:
The direction of THE TRIAL is very good. The acting is powerful. Also, the movie is extremely well plotted. However, the resolution is ambivalent because the movie does not clearly say whom the audience is rooting for: Mac or Peter. This is a minor problem. As it is, the movie is very enjoyable, but it is rated PG-13 for an attempted suicide, some druggings, a shooting, and the strangulation. So, THE TRIAL requires a slight caution for younger children.
(C, BBB, V, S, A, DD, M) Light Christian worldview with discussions about God but no mention of Jesus and a lawyer needs to let go and let God take over, plus strong moral points about honesty, loyalty, courage, and caring; no foul language; minor violence such as hitting, man shot in leg but nothing shown, car accident discussed, and suicide contemplated; no sex but discussion of inappropriate sexual advances; no nudity; alcohol use; villain drugs lawyer and discussion of two other characters being drugged; and, deceitful psychologist who tries to drug and kill lawyer and hires a killer to eliminate a wealthy heiress, lawyer fights for justice.
THE TRIAL is reminiscent of a good Perry Mason courtroom drama. Well constructed, it tells the story of a down-and-out attorney, named Mac McClain, who can’t get over the death of his family in a car accident.
The opening scene shows Mac trying to decide between committing suicide with a pistol shot to the head or by drugs because of the tragic automobile accident death of his family. Just at that moment, the judge calls him to ask him to take a case that seems to be a lost cause. The judge is hoping the case will bring back Mac to his former glory from his depressed current state of mind.
The case involves a young man, Peter Thompson, who was found next to a car wreck with the car keys in his hands and his girlfriend dead in the passenger seat. The girlfriend was a wealthy heiress. Her death was not caused by the wreck, but by strangulation. Compounding the problem is that the girl had date rape drugs in her bloodstream, and Peter had amphetamines in his bloodstream. Peter’s defense is that he doesn’t remember anything.
After a dark night of the soul, Mac decides to take the case because Peter reminds him of his son. Opposing Mac is a very sharp Atlanta prosecutor, Joe Whetstone. Joe hires a psychiatrist who finds Peter is homicidal. Mac hires a female psychiatrist who does tests on Peter suggesting he’s just depressed.
As the case progresses, Joe introduces more and more information suggesting Peter is guilty. However, there are slight clues that it may be the young girl’s uncle who was abusing her. Things get messy, it seems like there’s no hope in sight, and Mac has to release his grief to God.
The direction of THE TRIAL is very good. The acting is convincing and powerful. The movie is extremely well plotted, but there is not as much joy in the resolution as there should be because the script does not clearly differentiate regarding whom should be the object of the audience’s primary focus for the ultimate resolution: Mac or Peter. This is a very minor problem. As it is, the movie is very enjoyable, but it is rated PG-13 for the attempted suicide, the druggings, a shooting, and the strangulation. There is no foul language, nudity or sex in THE TRIAL, and MOVIEGUIDE® gives it a slight caution for younger children.