Or did he? The joy of watching the actor in erotic thrillers like He is considered innocent is in a way that can make us guess how bad he really is.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Warner Bros.
You do not know what to do with the character of Harrison Ford in the 1990 legal thriller He is considered innocent. This is a tribute not only to Scott Turow’s fascinating novel and its skillful adaptation to the screen, but also to Ford’s performance and the clever idea of putting the cast first.
Ford plays Rozat “Rusty” Sabich, a prosecutor investigating a murder he is accused of. He spends much of the film trying to convince the audience and every other character that he did not. Ford’s interpretation is based on all the experience the actor has accumulated up to that point – from his first, threatening supporting performances to Francis Ford Coppola The conversation and revelation now in the gallery of constant heroes he had created in its original form Star Wars through the previous year Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – in the service of a demanding mission: to make you care about a man who once cheated on his wife with a woman who has since been murdered and now cuts moral corners to avoid being accused of the crime. Rasti makes you think he is capable of being ashamed and regretting, but it remains an enigma that you wonder if he is making fun of you along with everyone else.
Sabich’s boss, District Attorney Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy), is embroiled in a close re-election campaign. Calls on Rasti, his protégé, to investigate the rape and murder of Carolyn Wars (Greta Scatzi), an assistant prosecutor specializing in the protection of victims of sex crimes and the imprisonment of their torturers, who has also been released. enough. , as they say. Carolyn’s relationships are as important in history as bread crumbs or red herring, respectively. One of Carolyn’s lovers was Rasti, and in the first of many decisions made by our detectives, Rasti refuses to tell his boss about their relationship when he takes over. Sabic can be innocent, he can be a fan or a pawn in a bigger game or he can be the killer. We just do not know.
Director and co-writer Alan J. Pakula is reuniting here with his greatest film collaborator, filmmaker Gordon Willis (The Godfather trilogy, The conversation), who made a trio of paranoid thrillers in the 1970s: Klute, The view of Parallaxand All the men of the President. With co-adapter Frank Pierson (Dog day afternoon) and composer John Williams (based on the musical image of a chameleon he built during his days before Lucas and Spielberg), Pakula joins Ford and a deep team of co-stars in creating a film that is not just about paranoia but also the role of acting in calling it.
As we watch the film, we become more and more paranoid, in part because Rasti is paranoid (to be caught, framed, or destroyed) and also because, no matter how many facts and arguments Rasti and other characters provide, we can not answer a basic question: Does this man seem capable of murder – and if so, was it a crime of passion or a cold calculation?
“It’s a difficult show because Ford has to let the viewer believe that they are both capable of murder but completely innocent of such barbarism,” writes Robert Daniels in “The Dark Side of Harrison Ford,” a piece about how Ford used his image as a fundamentally kind-hearted action hero to confuse, mislead, and annoy audiences Indiana Jones and the Temple of Destruction, The shore of mosquitoes, Furiousand What is hidden underneath. These films require him to spend at least part of his time on screen as a threat, anti-hero, monster or frustration, setting up scenes in which his characters do things we do not expect from Harrison Ford’s heroes, such as he plunges his girlfriend into a lava pit or leads his wife and children into a jungle to terrorize them with messianic zeal.
He is considered innocent has a confusing but fascinating cinematic genealogy, consisting of strands of different variations of the thriller. Although there is only a small amount of R-rated sex in the movie, and it’s all over, He is considered innocent is characterized as an erotic thriller because it is a romantic and sexual obsession so overwhelming that a successful professional has almost ruined his life and is on the verge of doing it again. He is considered innocent follows the steps of the classics as The Big Clock (rebuilt as the very best No way out), where a person who may be involved in a crime is in charge of investigating it – a place equally suitable for revealing the truth or burying it permanently.
There are echoes of thrillers for men who become obsessed with a dead woman who could not have and / or save (see Vertigo and Laura). Rasti was obsessed with Caroline throughout his life, and remains obsessed with it after her death – a fact that Rasti’s long-suffering but faithful wife, Barbara (Bonnie Bendelia), cries out in an early scene. The case of Carolyn and Rasti and its messy aftermath are explored in lengthy but wisely elaborated flashbacks. These further confuse our ability to infer what happened to Carolyn and whether Rusty was a part of it: We do not see what happened in the past but the story he decided to tell himself and us.
And there is a fascinating reversal of the fatal woman’s film-noir troparion. The film portrays Carolyn with more empathy than the book, which is elegantly written by Turow but is said to be trembling in the first person by Rusty, who objectifies Carolyn and takes a little Penthouse Forum –y in the description of their sex life. Carolyn is also opaque, but only because other people, most men, tell her story or distort it. At first we wonder if the film places Carolyn as a variant of the fatal woman, because of her sincere carnality and her willingness to end relationships that no longer fit at whatever stage of her career. But really, only someone like Rasti would see her as evil, and he is a deceitful and perhaps unstable man who has acquired a profession that reluctantly accepts women, reluctantly rewards them and tends to slander and even destroy them when they make a unhappy man.
Rusty’s morally violated research is the machine that drives the plot, but its core He is considered innocent is the tragic story of Carolyn, a woman who quickly emerged into a male-dominated environment, specializing in exposing and punishing predators and behaving sexually as some men in that environment traditionally did – and may have been killed for her audacity. From the beginning, there are lines (knowingly of misogyny, as in Silence of the lambs) and (scary) images that make it look like Carolyn was punished for something – though for exactly what none of the film’s guilty men would say. It is not a femme fatale goal a cursed woman: a cursed woman.
Greta Scacchi as Carolyn.
Photo: Warner Bros.
Pakula and Willis exacerbate our difficulty by “reading” Ford by denying access to his face when we want to see it. Rasti says or does potentially important things in part or in full shadow. There are some shots in which we look at the back of Ford’s head while Rusty explores a room full of people. Sometimes the camera will stay on another character while Rusty hears information that we think will panic him. that the character does not look at Rasti when he speaks adds another level of confusion: We feel that we missed something, but neither did the other character on stage see it, which means they can not reappear later to fill a void.
But while Pakula and Willis make many choices that help Ford create a black box character, he is ultimately the actor who brings him to life, unifies the film, and undermines any verdict we may reach on Rusty – often the moment we feel certain. we understood him. The acting and film collaborator does particularly well in scenes that have both a performance and a cinematic event and an idea that resonates beyond the boundaries of the screen. Like any thriller-did-or-did, it depends on discreet acting and it is about acting, both as an art profession and as a life skill, everyone needs to learn to some degree.
There are scenes in which Rasti “assumes” the behavior of a guilty and very cunning killer, speaking through the killer’s hypothetical mentality in the same way that an actor would speak through a scene he is preparing to play. The film is often restricted from a scene with Rusty in agony to a scene in which, say, he sits quietly at a terrace table and talks to Barbara, much like Harrison Ford relaxing in a backyard between works or sitting in a chair opposite his defense. lawyer, Alejandro “Sandy” Stern (Raul Julia), his relaxed posture and crisp, unbuttoned shirt that remind us of the kinds of photos the stars take to promote a movie. (Sandy sits across from Rasti in his own chair in a layout reminiscent of a press conference, a therapy session and an audition.)
The overall result is to see an actor “open” it and “turn it off”. The script helps Ford throw in pieces of dialogue from Turow about deception, credibility, honesty, repression, instability, and how red herring is thrown to committees to distract them from the truth. , whatever it is. Lawyers, defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses and judges are also artists. A person can be considered innocent because is innocent or because they gave a show that convinced us they did not. If acting is strong enough, we will never know the difference.
He is considered innocent may be the most important of Ford’s reversal experiments – right up there with the James Stewart films about Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann, in which the American superstar transformed into the kind of man you would do. your house, no matter how hard it hit and how desperately it begged, because you knew that if you did, it could kill you.
You look and look at Ford, with his drooping face and flattering haircut, wondering if Rasti’s looks of destruction, confusion, and indignation are sincere or calculated, seeking knowledge clear enough to analyze a question mark. Rasti may be innocent, he may have been framed, he may have been a pawn in a conspiracy or he may have been the perpetrator of a crime of passion, opportunity, half-heartedness, psychopathy or some combination. Who can say? Rusty will never do that. Even those of us who tend to announce five minutes in a thriller that we know who did it may at times doubt our certainty about how the story is told and how the hero and his character play their roles. .