Until the ridiculous final season, I was torn between this and Chicago 10. For the most part, this is a better film than Chicago 10, it’s live action, it’s well-acted, and it’s nowhere near as ADD. (Though it’s clearly inspired by that film.) The ridiculous final scene of this film shook my confidence in that assessment and I’m not sure which film I’d recommend any more.
The advantage of this film over the documentary that clearly inspired this film is that this film has great actors giving real performances and has an Aaron Sorkin script which is sometimes pretty compelling (if unbelievable.) The production values are high and the film is less schizophrenic than the documentary.
The advantage of the documentary is that it uses actual trial audio and actual footage of the riots, whereas this film, though it briefly uses footage of news broadcasts, deviates substantially from the truth. And, in addition to all the problems with the liberties that are taken, Sorkin lays on his shtick thick. I never watched The Newsroom but I remember the mocking of it on the interwebs and the finale of this film is deserving of similar mocking in how corny and detached form reality it is.
So I’ve now seen two films about this trial and neither are the film this trial deserves. This trial was a shit show, and I can totally understand Sorkin’s desire to use it to say something of the current state of American politics. But both films about it that I’ve seen (and I’m aware of) are deeply flawed. The documentary for its inability to focus and the fictionalized film for both its inability to stick to the truth and its ridiculous grandstanding. (It’s no surprise that Sorkin grandstands but I thought that maybe he would measure it somewhat.)
I liked this film a fair amount more before its final scenes, despite myself, but the final scenes, especially the very last one, were just too much for me to bear. This man does not know not how to convert people who disagree with him.