DVD Review: “The Advocate” Is Unoriginal And Cliché-Ridden


Review by James McDonald

A grieving defense attorney gets caught in a twisted game of who-done-it when he takes on the case of a beautiful socialite who is accused of murder.

There have been many courtroom dramas with big twists; “Jagged Edge”, “A Few Good Men” and “Suspect”, to name but a few but with “The Advocate”, one of the main issues I had with the film, was that it was too smart for its own good. The other issue was that the two main leads, Sachin Mehta and Kristina Klebe, were just not believable. When an actor is cast as the star of a movie, that actor has to carry the film, the burden is on them to help tell the story so that the audience buys it and believes in them, whether they’re the good guy or the bad guy, their characters still have to resonate with us, but with this movie and its two stars, neither of them were plausible. Now, not all the blame falls on the actor, a big part of that falls on the director when he or she is casting the movie but in this case, the majority of the cast, in my opinion, were not convincing and that was where I felt the film fell down. If I don’t buy the actor in their role, then I don’t buy the story and essentially, I don’t buy the film. Ray Shekar (Sachin Mehta) is a defense attorney with a flawless acquittal record. When Allyson Dougherty (Kristine Klebe) is accused of killing her rich husband and dumping his body in the ocean, she seeks out Mr. Shekar to represent her.

Initially he refuses as he is still grieving over the death of his wife and is wanting to get out of defense law altogether but gradually, as evidence begins to pile up, he accepts the case. In the beginning, he cannot establish, to his own satisfaction whether she is guilty or not but gradually, he begins to have feelings for her, mainly because she reminds him of his late wife. At this point, we find out that Mr. Shekar has a double life and a detective is also on his case for the disappearance of his last client, a suspected pedophile and it’s right around here, that the film becomes too bogged down with twists and turns around every corner. A final showdown at his house is just so far-fetched and unbelievable in its execution that it ruins what could have potentially been a first-class thriller. Instead, it felt more like a feature-length episode of “Law & Order.” Admittedly, the “Jagged Edge” approach has been re-imagined and re-invented many different times but I do give director Tamas Harangi kudos for at least resorting to it with conviction. He seemed to approach the movie with Hitchcock in mind and granted, there are a few slick twists along the way but after a while, it just gets a little too convoluted and begins to overstay its welcome.

As I stated earlier, a big part of a movie succeeding, is believing in the actors who are up on screen and if they are not convincing, then the whole movie fails. Here, both actors seemed totally incapable of emoting, rather, we just get pouting and frowning. In one scene, Mr. Shekar, in a supposed rage, grabs Mrs. Dougherty and pushes her up against the wall but instead of genuine fury, all we get is an actor raising his voice to give the impression that he’s angry and as far as the film is concerned, that will suffice. We’ve seen the whole good guy falling for the femme fatale in other movies such as “Basic Instinct” and “Body of Evidence” so when it happens here, we are not at all surprised. What would have been surprising, is if it didn’t happen and the filmmakers approached the story from a different perspective altogether. Cinematographer John Honoré creates some beautiful visuals and doesn’t concentrate too much on the clichéd L.A. landmarks, opting instead to focus on the story and the characters and put everything else out of perspective. Overall, the movie is a good effort by all involved and I think, with stronger actors in the lead roles, the movie would have been much better, even outstanding.

In stores August 28th

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James McDonald
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