Pros: the film is based on real events; acting; the picture is gradually gaining emotional momentum Cons: at first it seems that there are too many legal aspects “Judge by conscience” / Just Mercy
Directed by Destin Cretton
Starring: Michael B. Jordan (Bryan Stevenson), Brie Larson (Eve Ansley), Jamie Foxx (Walter McMillian), Tim Blake Nelson (Ralph Myers), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Anthony Ray Hinton), Drew Shade (Linus), Rob Morgan (Herbert Richardson), Rhoda Griffis (Judge Pamela Bacheb), Steve Coulter (Judge Beren), etc.
Companies Endeavor Content, MACRO, Netter Productions
Year of release 2020
The film follows aspiring lawyer Bryan Stevenson as he moves to Alabama. He takes on the cases of prisoners sentenced to death, for whom no one takes care. Stevenson sees them not as criminals, but as victims of a corrupt and racist system that is not interested in understanding the nuances of what happened. One of his clients is Walter McMillian, a black man accused of murdering a girl. Even if a lawyer finds convincing evidence of McMillian’s innocence, the chances of the case being reviewed in court are extremely slim.
The drama is based on real events from Stevenson’s life. These days, he is known as a social activist and director of the Equal Justice Initiative. The film shows the end of the 1980s, when Brian felt discrimination not only towards those convicted, but also towards himself.
It is quite predictable that a film with human rights nuances and American social realities will not attract many viewers. The film’s script does spend a lot of time on legal discussions, introducing specific criminal cases. This is presented in the form of a dialogue between Bryan Stevenson and his colleague Eve Ansley. Their roles are played by Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson (both of whom played in the film adaptations of Marvel comics), who are extremely pleasant to see in serious and down-to-earth images.
At first, Jordan and Larson hold interest in the film, but gradually the plot comes to the fore, demonstrating the depth of the story itself. Step by step, director Destin Cretton manages to reveal the emotional aspects of the struggle for human life. The film reveals the feelings of those who fight in court, as well as those who are imprisoned.
Some of the most powerful moments come from the part of the film that depicts the experiences of a man about to take the death penalty. Without making excuses for anyone, “Judge by Conscience” demonstrates pure fear that is impossible to cope with and so easy to manipulate. Combined with long close-ups that bring the viewer close to the terrible moment, this makes a great impression.
Notably, the film does not center around Walter McMillian’s case alone. The film shows his family, tormented by the unknown, as well as other prisoners with whom the main character maintains contact. They are all united by Alabama, where slavery flourished many years ago and remained the norm in the minds of local privileged residents. It is ironic that many of them are proud of a museum dedicated to the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, without drawing any parallels with the reality in which they live.
The script for “Judge by Conscience” adheres to the old-fashioned presentation of the plot, fortunately avoiding the modern tone, which would be completely out of place here. The film even preaches in its own way, over and over again emphasizing the need to fight for freedom and human life.
All this may seem boring, especially if you know that the film lasts a little longer than two hours. But to be honest, “Judgment by Conscience” is worth the effort to understand the legal nuances and then discover an emotional and powerful story devoid of artificial cinematic gloss.
a powerful story from the 80s about the fight for life and human rights.