Monday, April 23, 2007


A film called "Fracture" is a teen slayer flick, right? with chain saws and lots of nudity? Wrong. This is actually a terrific adult thriller that probably should have been called something like, "Enemy in the Courtroom." The title might cause this film to lose viewers. And that would be a shame.

An assistant district attorney (played by Ryan Gosling, right off his brilliant performance in "Half Nelson") goes up against a man (Anthony Hopkins) who tries to murder his wife, and the young man finds himself entangled in a cat-and-mouse game with the suspect.

It would be tempting to say that Anthony Hopkins' character is another side of Hannibal Lecter, the most famous role in Hopkins' career, and the one to which every other role is compared, but that would be false. Ted Crawford is a successful engineer who doesn't like stupid people or fools, and prides himself on exploiting the weaknesses in opponents. He should've been a lawyer.

A lawyer is exactly what young Willy Beachum is (Ryan Gosling), but we see immediately he's a guy who hopes to go beyond the D.A.'s office, and quickly. There's a lot of hubris here. We see it in the way he struts around the office, saying hi in a smug way to everyone he meets. We see his false modesty. We even see it in the sideburns he wears. And Gosling plays it perfectly.

David Strathairn is solid as the D.A. who watches his young charge vault over the lesser-paid, the elder statesman who has paid his dues. And Rosamund Pike is intriguing as the boss in the new job. The fact that I wanted more scenes with her and her family tells me I enjoyed even the quieter, slower scenes. This movie builds its relationships carefully, sometimes repetitively, yet we feel starved because the camera has to return to its two stars, and justifiably so.

It is pure moviegoing joy to watch Hopkins do what he does best, which is to cause fear and doubt in the hearts of his enemies and the viewers. And Gosling is a worthy opponent.

Thumb's up.


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