Court­room drama fails to ap­peal

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies -

THE true events de­picted in The Con­spir­a­tor took place in the mid-1860s, in the af­ter­math of the as­sas­si­na­tion of US pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln.

A strangely stilted and un­en­gag­ing court­room drama, The Con­spir­a­tor fo­cuses ex­clu­sively on the case of Mary Sur­ratt ( played by Robin Wright), a mid­dle-aged Wash­ing­ton woman ar­rested dur­ing the chaotic days af­ter Lin­coln’s tragic death.

Sur­ratt ran a small board­ing house of­ten fre­quented by Lin­coln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth. It was here, in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieved, that the scheme to mur­der the pres­i­dent ( and other key mem­bers of his ad­min­is­tra­tion) was hatched.

The film, di­rected by Robert Red­ford, is no­tably eva­sive when it comes to an­swer­ing the one im­por­tant ques­tion re­gard­ing Sur­ratt’s cul­pa­bil­ity.

Did she, or did she not know what was go­ing on un­der her own roof dur­ing Booth’s many vis­its?

In­stead, Red­ford bus­ies him­self un­sub­tly draw­ing par­al­lels be­tween Sur­ratt and the sus­pected ter­ror­ists who peeved Ge­orge Bush and his cronies less than a decade ago ( for in­stance, Sur­ratt was de­nied civil­ian sta­tus and forced to front a mil­i­tary tri­bunal).

View­ers will get the point Red­ford is mak­ing very quickly. But un­for­tu­nately, that does not mean the di­rec­tor will re­frain from mak­ing it over and over again.

The rest of The Con­spir­a­tor is boil­er­plate stuff, not un­like an episode of Law & Or­der stuffed full of fancy pe­riod cos­tumes and furry, fake whiskers.


Now show­ing State Cin­ema

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