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DFI Film Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

Mar 24, 2011

Written by Reem Saleh, New Media, DFI

Film: The Lincoln Lawyer

Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is a lawyer who conducts his business from the back of his car. His life and career all seemed under control until he is asked, for unknown reasons, to defend Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a spoiled brat from a wealthy family accused of raping and assaulting a prostitute. ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ is a drama about learning to do the right thing, within the rules of a game you have to master, or you will fail to survive.


The first feeling I got from the film is that it dragged a little bit more than it should (119 minutes). For a thriller of this kind, less is better. But there’s still something about this film that makes you want to drag your friend to the movie theater. Well obviously, for me, the reason would be Matthew McConaughey. Not for his good looks…but for the curiosity of seeing him play a lawyer, when his image has been shaped with wearing shorts without a shirt; a tanned, reckless and adventurous guy, in the romantic comedies he’s made so many times.

And again, what makes this film any different from the crime and lawyers TV series that are filling the cables? The answer will be again, Matthew McConaughey. The film serves him more than anyone else: it breaks his image into someone who’s capable of wearing suits and talking intellectually.

The plot in itself has nothing exceptional about it, apart from the fact that this lawyer uses a car as a mobile office. It reflects the personality of a lawyer who likes to be close to the streets, and it allows McConaughey to keep some of the bad boy attitude he’s famous for. Countering this character is a chauffeur, beautifully played by Laurence Mason, the alter ego of this very busy, adventurous lawyer, who’d take any case as long as it pays well. The pair complements each other with a strong chemistry that you immediately sense on screen. And how I wished the film elaborated this relationship, this trio between the car, the lawyer and the driver. The film would have gone good to great.

The rest of the cast adds strength to the film. Marisa Tohmei is excellent as Mick’s ex-wife, as is the amazing William Macey as the investigator and Mick’s right hand in collecting evidence. Michael Peña has less appearances but the little we have from him is enough. He plays an innocent ex-client in prison who shakes, years after, the consciousness of the lawyer. Ryan Phillippe managed to sustain a complicated role, of the spoiled rich kid, powerful enough to manipulate people around him.

I was impressed with how the film portrayed criminals as lovely people you sympathize and identify with. I learned a few things about the underground life of lawyers and investigators as well. But to me most important quote of the film would be “My father says the scariest client is an innocent man”. This film is about innocence, morality in the hands of manipulators, and truth in a way you wouldn’t imagine.

The Lincoln lawyer is now playing in Doha. If you have a passion for crime investigations and court rooms, then this film is for you.

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