“The thing about stories, they never really end do they? We’re still telling the same stories we’ve always told, just with different names, faces.” A great meta quote that ends a probably overly meta scene (the WB mention is too much) but kicks off the film’s fascinating re-examination of narrative truth and fiction, identity and choice, binaries and in-betweens in an old but new world. As the plot picks up it stumbles though; the story mechanics are convoluted and the stakes feel strangely low.
It’s a dialogue-heavy courtroom drama with all the humour, high-stakes intensity, and fiery one-liners (“What’s your price?” “My life”) of an action film. The script and editing masterfully ramp up the pre-, during-, and post-protest tension simultaneously (adding in Abbie’s stand-up was a cool touch) and the cast is excellent (Rylance and Cohen are standouts). The prominence then disappearance of Seale’s poignant sub-plot is the only real misstep here (the ending is schmaltzy but effective).