Coming Soon

April 23, 2011

The Conspirator

You may not have heard about The Conspirator, because it has not been advertised as much as other recent releases. It tells the story of Mary Surrat who is charged with conspiring with others, her son included,  to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. This happens in the heat of the Civil War, so the Union is looking for a scapegoat to ease their pain and help end the war. One lawyer, a former Union soldier, is convinced to represent her and try to save her life. The directing, story, and acting are great, but I doubt this one will be remembered for long.

It is very unusual to watch a film from the Civil War time period, since we rarely see films set in this time period oriented towards the general public. It takes a minute to adjust your mind set from the 21st century to the 19th century. Even once adjusted, films set in this time can feel cheesy or unrealistic.  However, Robert Redford as director does a great job of making all aspects of the film relatable, understandable, and authentic.  I question a few aspects of the film for it's authenticity, but I have to agree that some things will have to be changed a tiny bit for audiences to relate to and enjoy the film.

The story is an amazing one! Before Surrat no woman had been hanged for their crime. This creates a controversial decision for the coalition deciding her verdict. This was a heated time in the history of our country. As the emotions rise, so does the drama. Surrat's trial also led to major changes in the rights of Americans that we value today. The whole story is a debate of loyalty and ethics. How do you put your North/South alliance aside to do the right thing for one woman?

The acting in this film was very impressive. It has to be very difficult to change the way you act so greatly to represent a person from a very different time period. James McAvoy plays the lawyer that must represent Mrs. Surrat. He is very debonair, as men of this time appeared to be. He perfectly portrayed a man torn by this loyalty to the country he fought for and his duty as an attorney. Robin Wright plays Mary Surra,t the meek woman being charged with a hefty crime.  She transformed herself greatly from the modern woman she is to this frail mother trying to stay alive while also protecting her family. Both of these actors created such accurate portrayals that bring you completely into their story.

Overall, the acting and story really sucked me in. It took a moment to get fully on board with the authenticity of the time period representation. But Redford made me look past the time period and the acting and intense story took over. As mentioned, I don't think this film will be turning heads or talked about this time next year, but I would definitely recommend it. It is well made, enjoyable, and dramatic. But you don't need to see it in theaters.