Sunday, May 26, 2019

Guilty By Suspicion

Movie Name: Guilty By Suspicion
Year of Release: 1991
Director: Irwin Winkler
Starring: Robert De Niro, Annette Bening, George Wendt, Patricia Wettig, Sam Wanamaker, Luke Edwards, Chris Cooper, Ben Piazza, Martin Scorsese, Tom Sizemore, Gailard Sartain, Robin Gammell, Brad Sullivan
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Irwin Winkler has made a name for himself as a celebrated producer, and typical collaborator of director Martin Scorsese (he produced "New York, New York", "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas" to name but a few). His directorial feature was precisely "Guilty By Suspicion", which came out in 1991, with a script doctored by him, from an original by Abraham Polonsky (the film got selected to the prestigious official selection at the Cannes Film Festival). The film takes place in the 50s and it follows the story of David Merrill, a successful Hollywood director, who after a stint in France directing a new film, returns to the US to find his loyalty being questioned by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His family who has always played a second role in his life, is somewhat alienated from him, but David decides to remain faithful to his principles, and reveal nothing about himself or friends/associates. As his stern conduct remains, he finds himself unable to find work, that is until the prospect of directing a film, provided he testifies in front of congress, wins him over. As he deals with the lines of questioning from the committee, David realizes the effects these situations have had on people he has cherished and is forced to realize what his true priorities are.
"Guilty by Suspicion" is a lesser well known film in Robert De Niro's filmography since it got dwarfed by the immense exposure and success of "Cape Fear", also released in 1991. If that film was a phenomenal exercise in over the top menace and a dramatic physical transformation for the actor, "Guilty by Suspicion" is a much more subdued exercise. It's also a much needed lesson on staying true to one's beliefs, the power of freedom and transcending tyranny. The film manages to be humane, by progressively uncovering David's life, including all that he has compromised in order to be successful. It also showcases how in the end, his family, his friends, the love that permeates across his relationships, is the only real fountain of truth and loyalty. It's a film that sheds light on a dark period of history, but nonetheless a film that tackles and illustrates hard decisions and the consequences that they had in a lot of people's lives (and in many ways, the dramatic fatal ones). It's impeccably staged, featuring a stunning cinematography from the late Michael Ballhaus, and a competent score from James Newton Howard. The supporting cast is uniformly great, with Annette Bening, Patricia Wettig, Chris Cooper and Sam Wanamaker all providing a colorful backdrop to the events. Worth watching.