The Whole Truth
Starring Keanu Reeves, Renee Zellweger, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gabriel Basso, Jim Belushi
In the latest made for Lifetime script that casts big enough stars to wiggle itself onto limited theater screens. The Whole Truth shows just how far filmmaker Courtney Hunt has fallen since her directorial debut Frozen River (2008). Hunt didn’t write the screenplay, so we can’t blame her for that. As part of Zellweger’s comeback, this courtroom drama feels like a 90’s movie, showing much of its obvious twists in the trailer. The Whole Truth will appeal to the Danielle Steel fans of the world, but very likely bore the intellectuals out of their minds with plot developments you can see coming from a mile away.
Sixteen-year-old Mike Lassiter (Basso) is on trial for the murder of his father. He is represented by family council Richard Ramsey (Reeves). Finger prints on the knife, a confession, and bloody hands appears to be an open and shut case according to the medical examiner and local Louisiana police department. However, Mike hasn’t said a word since his arrest and refuses to speak to Richard. With the testimony of each witness Richard must piece together a defense. The deceased was not a good father or husband, evidence shows that. Janelle (Raw) is brought to Richard’s table mostly for sympathy from the jury, but her nose for lies will help point the case in the right direction.
The Whole Truth will appeal to the Danielle Steel fans of the world, but very likely bore the intellectuals out of their minds.
After you see the film in its entirety it seems very simple and obvious. Arriving to that conclusion is the guts of the thing, because with each witness testimony we see a flashback to the events in question. The irony is that what the person is saying and the images on screen don’t match. Desperate housewives trying to listen to this movie, catching random glances will be very confused. This keeps the audience in suspense to what is really going on in this murder trial. Most audiences don’t like to be manipulated by a film, it’s a cheap gimmick used mostly on television. Hunt fully embraces that technique and the payoff (if you can call it that) suffers tremendously.
In poker you watch for players “tails”, signs something isn’t what it seems, a bluff perhaps. Zellweger is the obvious tail in The Whole Truth, the trailer tells us that much. You can almost commend her performance as the mother who sits nervously in the court room, pondering her son’s fate, while blankly expressing things are not what they seem. On the other hand, you don’t cast Oscar winner Renee Zellweger in the part of the mother who just sits there. Reeves delivers a fairly forgettable performance; taking him back years when he accepted roles purely based on paychecks. Raw (Free State of Jones, Concussion) is the films dim highlight and the conscience of the story.
The courtroom equivalent of a trashy romance novel.