Sidewinder’s View: …And Justice For All (1979) [SPOILERS]

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Pacino’s idealistic defense attorney may mean well, but he’s frequently negligent with his case load, easily distracted by personal crises, and winds up not only getting two of his clients killed, and an admitted rapist a likely mistrial, but he tries to shift blame for those blunders onto other people.

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When I was young and naive, I thought Pacino’s opening statement…rant…tantrum…that ends the movie was a brilliant scene, but now I see it as a really pathetic meltdown, in which Pacino’s lawyer commits professional suicide and doesn’t achieve a damn thing worthwhile. Yet the movie wants us to believe it’s some sort of funny, feel-good finale.

Tonally, this big finale’s energetic and oddly upbeat, but actually it’s quite a downer and mars the rest of the movie for me. It remains watchable, but undeniably eye-rolling as it moves along. One of the funniest, most entertaining and gripping films about a morally and ethically dubious main character that I’ve ever seen.

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Even though I feel, at its core, the picture’s a piece of crap, I never get tired of watching it, flaws and all. That’s a filmmaking achievement in and of itself.

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