Judge Jim Thomas would rather have just a sliver of truth in a better movie.
Sometimes justice needs a little help.
The great thing about independent films is that they can take more chances. If you're being bankrolled by a major studio, they will, more than likely call some of the shots. Ask Guillermo del Toro about studio interference on Mimic sometime. As the court sifted through the sordid plot of The Whole Truth, brought to us by Green Apple, it occurred to us that if some studio interference could have prevented just a few of the missteps in this film, it would have been worth giving up the indie cred. There's an interesting plot in here somewhere, but…DAMN.
Acting coach Angela Masters (Elisabeth Röhm, Angel) has developed a lucrative career by coaching defendants, teaching them to transform themselves to be more sympathetic to a jury. No matter what the crime, she's happy to be of service. Angela still works with her best friend Gary (Sean Patrick Flanery, Dexter), a down-on-his-luck actor who's carrying a torch for her. Her somewhat dubious profession becomes a problem after she assists Yaro Maroslav (Eric Roberts, The Expendables), a Russian gangster; after getting him off on a menacing charge, she inadvertently overhears him plotting a crime. Now she has to use all her acting ability to reassure Yaro that she isn't a threat, while simultaneously trying to convince a skeptical DA that after years of helping out criminals, she now wants to put Yaro behind bars.
It would be easy to pile on Röhm's performance, but that's probably not fair. She doesn't have any comedic experience, and it shows. Big time. The real faults, though, have to be laid at the feet of writer/director Colleen Patrick; in an interview (available on the movie's website), she points out that she chose Röhm for the lead specifically because she had no comedic experience; Patrick wanted Röhm's dramatic abilities to help support the comedy.
Well, that didn't work.
I've got a little experience performing comedy. The easiest way to screw up comedy is to try and force it. Röhm forces it. The thing is, in several scenes, she exhibits solid comedic timing, but with the physical, broader comedy, if she went any further over the top, she'd be in orbit.
The idea is great—someone who coaches criminals on how to get acquitted getting hoisted on her own petard—there's potential for both great drama and great comedy in there, and it's not difficult to imagine a sublimely dark comedy emerging. However, at some point Patrick decided to take a broader route, which is fine, except that she went too far adding massive doses of farce to the proceedings, levels of farce traditionally reserved for bad '80s teen sexploitation comedies. Toss in subplots that serve no point, save to set up an out of the blue happy ending, and a complete lack of chemistry between Angela and Gary, her supposed romantic interest, and the result is a movie that leaves you scratching your head and murmuring, "Was this really the movie they intended to make?"
The DVD video and audio are pretty decent for such a low-budget affair. The only extra is a trailer; however, some brief cast/crew interviews are available on the movie's website. They will not enlighten you. The only intrigue they raise is that Röhm discussing a lot of the classic films that inspired Patrick. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple of French comedies, she doesn't mention any of them.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Eric Roberts is clearly having the time of his life; anyone who can be menacing wearing that goofy wig is an actor to be reckoned with. Also, there are no typos on the DVD case. Yes, I am reaching.
I can't help but feel that I'm missing some grand in-joke about acting coaches, mainly because if I'm not, then this movie is a cinematic face plant—into a steaming pile of cow flop.
It would take more than a good acting coach to get this defendant off.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Green Apple Entertainment
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