A mature courtroom drama full of masterfully nuanced performances.
Sidney Lumet's The Verdict (1982) is a natural depiction of a lawyers fighting their case with or without ethics. Lumet returns to form in the courtroom after his classic 12 Angry Men (1957) with The Verdict. Lumet's smooth direction gives The Verdict a grounded quality. The problems are all gritty and down to Earth. The Verdict is as real down to the mundane aspects of the courts.
David Mamet's script for The Verdict takes on corruption of judicial figures, corruption within The Catholic Church, miscarriage of justice, doctoral malpractice, and criminal negligence with a scathing critical lens from Lumet. All the issues within the judicial and medical industries are put on full display due to Lumet's careful camera placement and dedication to depicting good lawyer work.
Johnny Mandel's score is a subtle composition of classical music that brings out the seedy darkness of the law world. He keeps it quiet until the score suddenly rouses into a moody accompaniment of sorrow around Paul Newman's failures as a lawyer.
Paul Newman sheds his cool exterior to play Frank Galvin, who is the broken and defeated alcoholic lawyer on his last case. Newman is remarkably understated that makes The Verdict age well into a thoughtful piece on doing the right thing as a lawyer. Newman's closing statement speech is a neat choice of heartfelt honesty as he opts not to go for the impassioned speech declaring his client in the right. Newman instead keeps it classy and genuine that plays to pathos and emotions to do the right thing in the face of adversity. He made a logical and fair case and gave it his all in a performance you must see. Newman's stumbling around drunk is very fun as it is troubling, while Newman simultaneously establishes his character as the lawyer to root for in the end.
On the other hand, James Mason is phenomenal as the cheating lawyer with ghastly underhanded policies in his nuanced and calm performance as Ed Concannon. His villainy is present despite his charming persona. His careful politicking around reveals his cruel and unethical abuses of his office as a lawyer. Mason is brilliant as ever regardless of his older age. James Mason is the perfect foil for Paul Newman in The Verdict.
Jack Warden's supporting role as Mickey is as realistic and endearing as a portrayal of a friend and good lawyer as film gets. Milo O'Shea's irreverent and crooked Judge Hoyle is despicable and disturbing to watch his brazen abuses of his office.
Lastly, I must mention the young and lovely Charlotte Rampling in an incredibly complex role as Laura Fischer. Her moody personality and blunt speech makes Laura the ultimate femme fatale. Her character's twists are unpredictable as I did not see them coming. I especially appreciate the realistic ending Lumet chose for Newman and Rampling. Charlotte Rampling has always been an actress to watch and appreciate excellence in realistically nuanced acting. She is simply divinely blessed in her craft.
I loved The Verdict for its lack of hand holding in how mature and respectful Lumet treats his audience. You follow the case exactly as Newman experienced every sudden hope and disillusioned crash. The courtroom has never felt so tense and uncertain as it exists within The Verdict!