The Conspirator: directed by Robert Redford; written by James D. Solomon
I couldn’t possibly write anything on Robert Redford period/political drama without pointing the way to Tim’s review which says everything I could possibly say with much more alacrity. So, in a way, this review suffices as something of a footnote because even though I’ve got nothing particularly new to the table I’d feel bad devoting nary a word to the film. The first I heard about The Conspirator was a post that RC of Strange Culture did before it was released, and there’s no doubt that American History is mellifluous enough to precipitate dozens of interesting tales about the Civil War era and whatnot. There is an interesting story to be told in The Conspirator, but there’s a devastatingly trite way in which it is told.
But, the cast subverts that nature. I feel a bit annoyed with Redford that he has such a brilliant cast and fails to give them impeccable work. But, looking at the film you wouldn’t know it, well not really. It’s a good ensemble and the actors are all willing to put in credible work. I was looking forward to The Conspirator because of Robin Wright. She made my list of nominees in 2009 for her work The Private Lives of Pippa Lee a film she held down with her luminescence. She doesn’t get to do quite as much here because as much as the film is named after her titular character Solomon’s narrative seems more interested in James McAvoy Aiken, the war hero turned lawyer. And, McAvoy is fine – as is the entire cast – but it’s such a shame that Wright in particular is forced to play her role in a single register (excellently, but still). The film’s female cast – made of Wright, Evan Rachel Wood (impressive in a role that’s too small) and Alexis Bledel in a surprisingly poignant turn. Even though Wright is the de facto lead Redford is intent to leave her for the men of the narrative, sometimes to the disservice of the film. It’s a true shame that Wood and Wright never get a proper scene together.