The Lincoln Lawyer Eng 225 Richard Bair March 25, 2012 The Lincoln Lawyer Introduction “When making a movie from a popular, 400-page mystery/thriller novel, the success or failure of the film production often relies more upon the quality of the adaptation than any other single factor” (Berardinelli, 2011, para 1). This statement has never been truer than with the film The Lincoln Lawyer. There are a lot of stories that try to make the transition from the pages of a book to the big screen, and most lose vital parts in this transition usually due to time constraints.
However, director Brad Furman does an outstanding job in bringing this thriller from the pages of Michael Connelly’s novel to the moving medium. In this paper we will analyze several different aspects of the film including: Storytelling, acting, cinematography, editing, sound, style and directing, societal impact, genre, and film criticism and analysis. Finally I will end with my thoughts and conclusion. Body The Lincoln Lawyer follows chronological order, meaning “the order in which events would logically occur, from beginning to end” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011, Ch. Key Terms). This is apparent from the beginning of the film when we meet Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) and from there the plot just seems to unfold in the order viewers are expecting it to, with the exception of the twists that audiences expect from this genre of film. Chronological order also allows the viewer to follow the character development of Mick Haller more closely, and in the end we see that this questionable lawyer still has some sort of a moral compass, and uses his courtroom prowess to right a wrong.
The cinematography in this film does a nice job of complementing the plot. Right away the audience is introduced to, what appears to be, some pretty rough neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area. The audience is basically riding along with Haller as he conducts business in the backseat of his classic Lincoln. The viewer gets the impression that this lawyer’s cliental are rough people, but have the resources to pay his fees. The mise en scene is constant throughout the film, bouncing between the streets, courtroom, prisons and jails, and the backseat of Haller’s car.
The main conflict in this film is whether Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe) is guilty of raping and assaulting a female prostitute. At first, Haller believes that Roulet is innocent. As the story progresses we find out that Roulet is hiding convenient information from Haller, and is guilty of this crime and one other that is personal to Haller. Haller’s external conflict is that he is about to let a guilty man walk. The internal conflict is revealed in an old case where Haller convinces Jesus Martinez (Michael Pena) to plead guilty to a murder he did not commit.
The result was that Martinez would get life instead of risking the death penalty. As the Roulet case starts to unfold, the crimes show a lot of similarities, and Haller discovers that Roulet is the one who committed the murder that Martinez pled guilty to. There is some irony here, because Haller’s biggest fear is that one day he may not be able to identify true innocence (Furman, 2011). This film helps audiences relate to the characters and storyline because we all want to do the right thing, and we all would like to right the wrongs in our past.
Haller is a character that I find is very easy to relate to, I have been driven by the “almighty dollar” and didn’t care who I hurt to get it. I have bent truths all for self gain, but in the end, you always wind up worse off than you were to begin with, you have isolated yourself all in the name of prosperity. The universal truth in this film is the same, always take advantage of the opportunities to make something right, even if it means saying you were wrong.
The actors in this film are Matthew McConaughey (Mick Haller), Marisa Tomei (Maggie McPherson), Ryan Phillippe (Louis Roulet), and William H. Macy (Frank Levin). Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe could be considered as stars. “Stars are actors who are simply famous on-screen and off, personalities so magnetic that we are interested not just in their movies but in their personal lives as well” (Goodyknootz & Jacobs, 2011, 3. 4, Stars, para 1). Tomei and Lacy could be considered as wild cards. Wild card, when an actor who is difficult to classify as one certain type, often because he or she can play a wide variety of characters equally well without becoming typecast” (Goodyknootz & Jacobs, 2011, 3. 4, Wild card, para 1). The type of acting found throughout this film is mainly realism, “this is acting that doesn’t draw attention to itself but instead gives the impression of genuine human action and reaction” Goodyknootz & Jacobs, 2011, 3. 7, Realism, para 1). The reason I chose realism is due to the fact that there is no overly dramatic scenes in this film, all of the reactions seem genuine and “everyday”.
The mise en scene is pretty simple throughout this film, we basically spend the majority of this film in one of four places; the courtroom, Haller’s car, a bar, or a jail or prison. In the courtroom, the camera shows us just enough to let us know where we are. Most shots in these scenes are medium and close-ups and they mainly show us the lawyers, judge, person on the stand, or the jury. The same is true for the scenes in the bar and the jail or prison. In the bar, we are usually hearing a conversation take place between Haller, McPherson, and Levin.
In the jail and prison, we see just enough of the scene to see Haller speaking to past and present clients. The scenes shot in Haller’s car are where we actually get a feel for where he “works” this being the streets of the Los Angeles area. Here we get a glimpse of city blocks with less than inviting buildings before the camera moves inside the car so we can hear Haller conducting business with one of his contacts. In the jail and prison scenes, the cinematographer chooses low-key lighting and desaturated colors.
This gives the scenes a depressing feeling, which one in jail would be expected to have. All other scenes use high-key lighting to intensify the drama that is unfolding. Even with the high-key lighting, this film appears to use natural lighting, in that, the colors look normal, and even though shadows are not present, nothing looks fabricated. This film uses an objective camera, meaning the camera is “simply recording the action as it happens with the audience becoming a neutral observer” (Goodyknootz & Jacobs, 2011, 4. 6, Objective and Subjective camera, para 2).
In my opinion, this was the best choice, if the cinematographer would have tried to use a subjective camera; it would have been easy for the audience to get confused on whose eyes they were viewing the action through. The subjective camera would be best suited for a film that is told from one person’s point of view from start to finish. In the clips “A Dangerous Place” and “Make it Right” the director makes good use of direct cuts. Here we are seeing an exchange of dialogue between Haller and Roulet and the camera cuts from one person to the other as each one speaks.
In the clip “Make it Right” we see the same use of cuts as Haller and Levin are engaged in conversation. The way Furman edits these exchanges, the audience never misses a beat during these two exchanges and it helps to move the film along. Continuity editing was used in the editing process of this film. Continuity editing involves “advance planning of shots that cutting to different camera positions will maintain the illusion that everything is happening in a continuous time and space, and the audience will not become confused; sometimes called invisible editing” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2011, Ch. Key Terms). When viewing this film, the transitions from one scene to the next were effortless, even when changing to a new setting. There were no visible signs or editing flaws that would make a viewer realize that they are watching a film, in my opinion. For the most part, dialogue is the most prominent sound in this film. Dialogue consumes the courtroom scenes, and most of the scenes that involve Haller and Roulet. However, the city scenes, while Haller is in his car are dominated by music, a fitting hip-hop song that complements these scenes very well.
Scenes in bars, and scenes between Haller and Maggie McPherson include a combination of dialogue, music, and walla. The sounds in this movie do an excellent job of sucking the audience into the story, and holding them there throughout the entire film. The Lincoln Lawyer was only the second film directed by Brad Furman. The first was The Take (2008), this film was about an armored truck driver who was hijacked and lived to tell the tale, but then becomes obsessed with hunting down the hijackers.
The Lincoln Lawyer and The Take have one parallel in that the main character takes it upon themselves to right a wrong and save their name. This could be a resounding theme we can expect from Furman in films to come. I feel that this film does address societal issues, in that it proves that not everyone can be bought. All around us we see white collar crimes taking place, and because the plaintiffs have money, they usually get a lesser sentence than the “average Joe” would. This proves that the rich can fall to the same fate as the average person, and that no one is above the law.
I think it also speaks to the overall perception we have of defense lawyers, we think of them as protecting the guilty, and sometimes that may be the case, but that doesn’t mean that there are not some that are doing the right thing. This film definitely falls into the mystery genre. The typical elements of this genre can help the audience understand that everything will not be what it seems at first. There will be twists and turns that, if well presented, will keep audiences on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
It is also a genre that usually delivers some of the best character developments onscreen, as we see with Mick Haller in this film. Conclusion Throughout this paper we have analyzed several different aspects of the film including: Storytelling, acting, cinematography, editing, sound, style and directing, societal impact, genre, and film criticism and analysis. Overall, I found this to be an interesting film with a great story and plot. I think that Furman did an outstanding job casting the roles in The Lincoln Lawyer, and achieved something that not all directors can, bring a novel to the big screen.
I feel that Matthew McConaughey delivered a strong performance in this lead role. It is my hope that Furman and Connelly are not finished bringing these thrillers to film. References: Berardinelli, J. (2011, March 16). Lincoln Lawyer, The. Retrieved on March 11, 2012, from http://www. reelviews. net/php_review_template. php? identifier=2275 Furman, Brad [Director]. (2011). The Lincoln Lawyer [Motion Picture] Goodykoontz, B. , & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From Watching to Seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. https://content. ashford. edu