"Truth is Short-Changed in This Courtroom Drama"
What You Need To Know:
THE WHOLE TRUTH is not much more than a courtroom drama, with flashbacks depicting scenes as the witnesses describe them. It turns out all the characters are morally depraved, except for the defense lawyer’s newly hired assistant, the only one interested in discovering the whole truth. THE WHOLE TRUTH contains strong violence and some other graphic content. The resolution of the plot problem is immoral. So, MOVIEGUIDE® rates THE WHOLE TRUTH as unacceptable.
(HH, B, LL, VV, SSS, NN, AA, D, MM) Strong humanist worldview where the guilty party goes free, no mention of God or a higher power, and only one character seems interested in maintaining morality and integrity and seeking “the whole truth”; about 15 obscenities and profanities, a character is shown vomiting though the vomit is not shown directly; strong violence includes a man shown raping his wife, it’s implied (and heard in some scenes) that a husband physically abuses his wife, a man is murdered by being stabbed in the chest; strong sexual content includes husband rapes his wife, a father asks his son if he can “handle a piece of ass like that” when referring to a nearby woman, a son testifies in court his father sexually abused him, teenage boy spies on couple being intimate together, a man has affairs with multiple women, a woman has an affair with a man, a line talks about “everyone screwing everyone else”; an intimate couple are shown partially nude, and a woman’s naked profile is shown as she enters a shower; several scenes involve drinking alcohol, a slightly drunk man is shown in a couple of scenes; cigarette smoking is shown in a couple of scenes; a man mistreats his wife with physical and verbal abuse, a father threatens his son to be quiet about domestic abuse, a woman participates in her husband’s murder husband, and her son takes the blame, multiple people lie about a murder, a lawyer purposely constructs a murder case to falsely accuse his defendant in order to save himself.
In THE WHOLE TRUTH, a lawyer defends a teenager accused of murdering his father, who turns out to have been abusive toward his family. This courtroom drama has plenty of twists and turns to keep viewers guessing until the end, but it has some graphic content and an immoral resolution to the plot problem, so it’s an unacceptable entertainment.
Richard Ramsey, a trial lawyer, finds himself trying to get the son of his long-time friend, Boone Lassiter, off the hook for murdering Boone. The police found Mike Lassiter hunched over his father’s dead body and whispering a confession. Since then, Mike’s has refused to talk at all, even with Ramsey who’s trying to keep him out of prison. Mike’s mother, Loretta, is desperate to see her son go free.
Ramsey begins trial with a quick trip to the restroom where he promptly loses his breakfast in a fit of nerves. The judge lets each attorney know he’s in a hurry to conclude the trial, and will be short on patience if they pull any courtroom shenanigans.
The first witness is an airline stewardess, who regularly served Boone on his private jet. There are innuendoes that her service went outside her duties on the flight. Other witnesses point to evidence that Boone was having affairs with multiple women. By the time Boone’s wife, Loretta, gets to the witness stand, she begins to look more and more like the culprit, especially after she reveals Boone was abusive.
Janelle, Ramsey’s newly hired assistant, starts to be silently suspicious of both Ramsey and Loretta. Though she thinks Loretta is the likely murderer, she’s confused as to why Ramsey is so vehemently trying to keep Loretta out of the line of fire.
Meanwhile, Ramsey visits Mike in his prison cell several times in an effort to get him to talk. Mike finally agrees, but will only talk on the witness stand. Ramsey balks at the idea of letting Mike testify without knowing what he’ll say, but has no choice if he wants to keep Mike out of prison. Mike reveals some striking things about his father, hoping to make the murder sound like an act of self-defense. Ramsey plays along, which adds more fuel to Janelle’s suspicions.
By the time Ramsey presents his closing argument to the jury, Janelle’s convinced he’s letting the real murderer get away while allowing Mike to take the blame. Though she confronts Ramsey about his ethics, it’s not her place to bring it up publicly. Little does she know how right and wrong she is.
THE WHOLE TRUTH is not much more than a courtroom drama, with flashbacks depicting scenes as the witnesses describe them. A small number of scenes take place outside the courtroom, mostly of lawyers camping out in a cheap motel going over trial notes. It could be argued that Keanu Reeves’ stiff, emotionless characterization of Ramsey is off-putting. In fact, it is rather annoying through most of the movie. The ending offers an explanation as to why Ramsey is behaving this way, but it’s a conspicuous weakness in the movie.
It turns out that nearly all the characters in THE WHOLE TRUTH are morally depraved, except for Ramsey’s newly hired assistant, Janelle. In fact, she seems to be the only one interested in getting to the bottom of the truth. The ending is particularly disturbing in that the perpetrator really does get away with murder, and the way it happens will leave some or many viewers with a sickening feeling in their gut as they walk out of the theater.
THE WHOLE TRUTH contains depictions of rough sex as a man essentially rapes his wife, hints of physical abuse, depictions of verbal abuse, and violence in the form of murder with a knife through the chest. Some alcohol and foul language are also present. Ultimately, the negative content and the movie’s immoral ending render THE WHOLE TRUTH unacceptable entertainment.