The Whole Truth full movie review - A boy's father is dead and you are left with huge breadcrumbs to understand the motive, and twists, behind his father's death.
Trigger Warning(s): Blood | Conversation about Rape | Depiction of Verbal and Physical Abuse
Characters Worth Noting Mike (Gabriel Basso) | Loretta (Renée Zellweger) | Richard Ramsey (Keanu Reeves) | Janelle (Gugu Mbatha- Raw) | Boone (Jim Belushi)
The sole focus of Ramsey is to find a way to get Mike a not guilty verdict. This is despite all evidence and the entire investigation solely focusing on him killing his father Boone. Someone who doesn't have the best reputation. There are allegations of physical abuse, there are multiple instances of verbal abuse, and Ramsey tries to make him out to be a womanizer. But is that enough to justify a murder? Does Mike's silence for most of the trial make him seem less of a sympathetic figure? Does Janelle's grilling of a woman named Angela Morley (Nicole Barré), who may have allowed Boone to do something unthinkable, help this slightly fishy case? Well?
Something about this film reminds me of Anna (Mindscape) in the sense that you get some real quality performances here but, unlike Mindscape, there is less of a whodunit type of mystery here. The mind automatically gravitates to Mike's motive seeming off, especially as we are told he is a legal prodigy who for some reason ended up on trial for murder. On top of that, Richard tells Janelle everyone lies and Janelle keeps picking at that. It gets her some headway during the trial, but even with her past used to attempt to discredit her, everything seems a bit too laid out for you to be shocked by the ultimate result of the movie. Especially as any and all flashbacks are treated as a matter of fact and not varying perceptions of what actually happened.
Though it is perhaps the ending which got me the most. What someone surely considered a "big reveal" honestly felt thrown in there. It is like the writer (Nicholas Kazan) crafted something which may have seen complex on paper but in live action, it didn't translate well. To the point that it almost leaves you with a feeling of indifference, or the need to roll your eyes, for it seems someone thought that reveal would be huge and yet it falls flat partly due to predictability.
I can't make a claim to being a fan of any actor in this movie, besides Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and while I knew of the actors for their other roles, Bill & Ted and of course Bridget's Diary, I didn't have a formed opinion. Well, if I based it solely on this movie, I would say Reeves and Zellweger are excellent actors. To me, there are only a few different types of actors and I would argue these two, at least in this movie, seem like those who can take a decent script and, make it possibly seem good thanks solely to their performances.
For the actors in this film, if you lend yourself to doubt anything, they will try to quickly hook onto you and drag you toward the darkness. Be it how calm Loretta seems through all this, Mike's proclamation and all signs to him being the murderer, or even Richard's part in this. His willingness to take on an unproven lawyer, one with issues, as his 2nd chair and then defend the kid who killed his former friend and client? Then, on top of that, drag Boone's name through the mud? There is so much here to question and if you don't look past the surface you could get lost. However, if you shake away the fog and don't let the actors' grip hold onto you, everything seems clear and Janelle is surely to blame.
I am not the master in figuring out plots and getting twists and turns before they happen. Even with all the TV shows and movies I watch, including foreign films and anime, which can be quite screwed up, I find myself with wrong theories and perceptions all the time. So when I do get something right, it is a bit disappointing. Movies are fantasies, people actively trying to trick you into forgetting the actor and only recognizing the character. There is this attempt to bring a story, either inspired or fictional, to life and to get you lost in it. Unfortunately, as noted, even when an actor is at their best, when there are red flags it is hard to stay in the dream. When things seem off and don't belong, the trance the actors try to keep you in wares off and so comes you seeing flaws.
And that trance is important. In the best films, that trance is only broken once the credits role. Yet, if the trance is broken earlier, it's like watching a ballet in the front row. Yes, you may physically see the artistry and perhaps admire it, but with the sound of feet landing you find a nagging flaw that leads your mind to be a bit too active in the pursuit of taking note of everything around you.
Bringing it back to this film, and to summarize, the actors get you early into a trance but the twist and would be shocks are jolts to the system that aren't introduced in a way that could keep you from thinking "hold up, something is not right." They wake you up and lead you to question things, and not in a good way. They lead you too quickly to answers and being proved right too many times leaves you feeling dissatisfied.