11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A shattering anti-death-penalty film with great performances,
By A Customer
This review is from: Let Him Have It [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If Peter Medak's career since this film had fulfilled his promise in this one, he'd be one of the industry's leading directors. That Chris Eccleston, who has assembled an impressive body of work since his debut in this film, is still virtually unknown is nothing short of a crime.
This film is a must-see for anyone who believes that the death penalty is always meted out fairly. It dramatizes the 1953 U.K. execution by hanging of Derek Bentley, a learning-disabled young man involved peripherally in the shooting of a police officer.
"Let him have it, Chris!" Bentley uttered just before his young accomplice let the shots fly. Did he mean for him to shoot, or drop the gun? 43 years after Bentley's execution, in July 1998, the British courts finally agreed that he meant the latter.
The film is a smashing debut for Chris Eccleston, who imbues young Bentley with pathos without resorting to mannerisms or acting tricks. If you accidentally stumbled upon JUDE because you wanted to see Kate Winslet, check her equally-talented co-star out in this film.
Eccleston is backed up by equally poignant, yet muted supporting performances by Tom Courtenay (nice to see him in a film again) as Derek's father, and by Eileen Atkins as his mother, as well as Clare Holman as his understanding sister Iris, who tries valiantly to help her brother survive in the mainstream.
The knowledge that Iris Bentley died merely months before her brother was exonerated makes this film even more heartbreaking.