Ben Oliver

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Presumed Innocent

If they cannot find the truth, what is our hope of justice?
22 February 2024

A prosecutor (Harrison Ford) is accused of murdering a colleague with whom he was having an affair (Greta Scaachi). Spoilers ahead!

Hot off the heels of Anatomy of a Fall1 someone recommended this film to me, which I can’t believe I’d never seen given its collaboration between Harrison Ford, Alan J. Pakula and John Williams.

I think it flies under the radar because it’s a pretty low-key, level headed piece of work, a trait which it shares with Anatomy of a Fall and a trait which makes both films great. Pakula really is the master of taking dry material and making you feel the weight of it.

It’s an excellent deconstruction of the pitfalls and failures of the legal system, that has just enough twist and turns to stay exciting but plausible.

And now some spoilers; if you are gonna make it so that the wife did the crime, you possibly should have done away with the twist ending and got her more involved in the actual drama. I realise that ambiguity is a sin in Hollywood but the end kind of spoils what is quite a potent message about the ways in which we search for truth.

That’s a minor gripe though, I really enjoyed Presumed Innocent and I would also recommend it to people interested in an American take on Anatomy of a Fall. It’s also a bit of a time capsule - such big names getting together with big budgets to make something so un-bombastic seems unlikely to happen these days.