DVD review entries

January 05, 2005

12 Angry (But Nice) Men

4 out of 5 stars

This is not a dvd review.

Specifically, I have not seen this on DVD. And probably never will. What's the point? This film has appeared a couple of times on TV, and is a black and white adaptation of a stage show. The film is set in only one location (ok, maybe two, if you include a toilet), and involves nothing more than characters talking, and waving, and raging at one another. Sure, you get probably some paltrey extras on DVD, but really, they are meaningless.

Simply put, this film is incredibly compelling.

Premise is straightforward, and I suppose not a little over-optimistic. 12 men sit in a small room, debating a murder case. From the beginning, 11 of them easily assume that the defendant is guilty, and should go to the electric chair. Except for one. Then slowly, they become persuaded, and the arguments for the execution fall away into doubt and personal prejudice. And humanist liberalism wins out in the end.

What's there not to like?

The script is perhaps a little heavy-handed in its treatment of issues like the justice of the jury system, the morality of the death penalty, and the duty to be objective. And the conclusion probably is very predictable. But at least it deals with the issues at all. The director shows superb skill is managing the atmosphere, and the actors never fail to be utterly convincing.

A must-see. Unless you are claustrophobic, or something. In which case, run like the wind.

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