R | 1h 33min | Drama, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle
*In theaters and VOD 10.21.16*
Synopsis: A defense attorney works to get his teenage client acquitted of murdering his wealthy father.
Review: Though not a perfect film THE WHOLE TRUTH does have elements of a John Grisham thriller or high end made for TV movie. It doesn't boast or brag but moves subtly through a simple script. And although you may figure some things out early it will keep a few mysteries under wrap until the end.
The film jumps right into the story line as Ramsey (Keanu Reeves) enters the court room to defend his teenaged client Mike (Gabriel Basso). Though only 16 Mike is being tried as an adult for the brutal stabbing of his father Boone (Jim Belushi). As witnesses take the stand we get the back story on Boone and the type of husband and father he was. The script does a decent job of keeping the audience guessing because you aren't sure who is telling the truth. Ramsey's job is made even harder by the fact that Mike has refused to speak since the killing.
One good point is that this legal thriller spends the majority of time in the courtroom. Getting the story in testament form is actually better than seeing it in real time. Reeves has matured his acting skills and seems comfortable in the role. Again this is not a deep rooted script and it allows Keanu to handle the dialogue proficiently. He is supported at the table by Janelle played nicely by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Belushi we see only in flashbacks but he nails the domineering parent. He is the guy in the neighborhood that you walk on egg shells around; hoping not to get on his bad side.
Mike's mother is played by Renée Zellweger who, if you haven't seen current pics online, will be hard to recognize. The mannerisms and voice is hers but the face is a stranger. That is just a trivial point and of course doesn't hinder her performance. Zellweger is a fantastic dramatic actress and like Reeves has no problem with this script.
The Whole Truth is a decent big screen option but a wonderful renter/vod option. The cast is well known and masters of their craft. As mentioned the script doesn't try too hard and some might find it too simplistic. But honestly the simplicity of it works here. Normally I am harsh on this type of narrative but the fact it kept me engaged and intrigued says a lot.
It is rated R for language and some violence including a sexual assault. It is an adult film but nothing is vile or offensive. With a few edits it could be as tame as any Sunday night TV movie. If you are looking for a date night on the couch I would recommend it more than big box office ticket prices. But even with that option you won't walk away angry. I give it 3 out of 5 gavels. The higher rating as a renter.