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Primal Fear
5 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Gregory Hoblit

Written By:
Steve Shagan, Ann Biderman

Cast:
Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton, John Mahoney, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Terry O'Quinn, Andre Braugher, Steven Bauer, Joe Spano, Tony Plana, Stanley Anderson, Maura Tierney, Jon Seda

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Primal Fear (1995)
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Movie Review by Jessica Film Junkie
March 6th, 2007

Norton's Brilliant Debut

Edward Norton was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal in this film of the altarboy, Aaron Stampler, accused of killing a priest that turns out to be not quite the pillar of society many has thought he was. Norton shows in this role why this film catapulted him to the kind of fame he now has and it also premieres Norton as the strange character actor/leading man niche he is now enjoying (quite a feat in Hollywood). Norton is chameleon and that is never more clear than here as the Kentucky-bred poor kid who is thrown into the darkest side of society.

This storyline follows a hotshot attorney, Martin Vail (Richard Gere), who is known for getting off criminals and putting the victim on trial. Yet in this altarboy murder mystery he must go toe-to-toe with his former flame and equally talented attorney, Janet (Laura Linney). They fight until the end both in the courtroom and personally until Janet finally makes her case clear to the egotistical Martin.

This film boasts some pretty impressive casting, such as Frances McDormand as a psychiatrist assigned to analyze Aaron and finds something shocking; Maura Tierney and Andre Braugher are great as Vail's legal assistants; John Mahoney is creepy as the businessman with a grudge against the priest, and Lost's Terry O'Quinn (with hair) as his cohort; Alfre Woodard is powerful as the judge. But this is a film that centres around the relationships between Gere and Norton, and Gere and Linney, all of whom give great performances.

The best part of this film is that the more you think you know what is going to happen, the more off base you are. A classic mid-90's courtroom drama that should be remembered.

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