Reel Critics: 'Lawyer' makes good case as courtroom thriller

Matthew McConaughey ramps up his mojo playing Mick Haller, a street-smart attorney in "The Lincoln Lawyer." He clearly understands the fringes of society as he picks up clients charged with prostitution, assault and drug cases. The title refers to his use of a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Town Car as his mobile office.

But he really knows his way around the back corridors of the jail and courthouse, where he plies his sleazy trade. The sharp opening sequence provides a vivid cross section of the kinds of cases a street lawyer might encounter. But the story quickly centers around a very rich client charged with a brutal attack on a woman.

Ryan Phillippe plays the accused wealthy young man, who adamantly claims his innocence. Haller finds himself drawn into the melodrama of his client's life as the facts of the case unfold in unexpected ways. Haller's friends and family are put at risk as strange events occur. In the end, this is a well-made courtroom thriller with unusual twists and turns that keep it very interesting.


A far from plain 'Jane'

Do we need yet another remake of "Jane Eyre"? Charlotte Brontë's classic novel is a bit goth but tame by today's standards. There are no vampires, wizards or red cloaks to liven it up.

And yet, this newest version starring Mia Wasikowska is, in a word, exquisite.

Raised in a loveless and cruel environment, it's a wonder Jane was able to keep her sense of self-worth and humor intact. Such a resilient spirit may be "small … poor and obscure" but she is anything but plain.

Working as governess at grim Thornfield Manor, Jane meets Edward Rochester, her cynical, broodingly handsome employer. He has a curious way of ignoring Jane even as he constantly craves her presence.

This is a love story told with quiet and feverish passion, if there can be such a thing. When Mr. Rochester tells her "You transfix me greatly," the desires behind those words make a lady want to swoon.

Wasikowska strikes all the right notes beautifully in the title role, and Michael Fassbender's Rochester has the right charisma, if not quite the necessary angst, for one of literature's most intriguing lovers.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa.

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