A Civil War drama, in 2011. Director Robert Redford and the American Film Company fearlessly delve into the case of Mary Surratt (well played by Robin Wright), the Washington, D.C. boardinghouse keeper accused of conspiring in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The result is appropriately sober. Mrs. Surratt, a Confederate sympathizer and suspected confidante of the assassin John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell), is also a Roman Catholic. And so when she faces an all-male military tribunal she’s the classic outsider — a point not lost on the court-appointed attorney (James McAvoy, also good) who defends her. Their relationship, which should have been the film’s emotional center, comes out a bit flat. Meanwhile actors Kevin Kline, Danny Huston, Tom Wilkinson, and Colm Meaney shred the carpets as the expedient government men, whose chief objective is to hang the culprits as quickly as possible and restore order. Is it all an allegory for Guantanamo and the war on terror? Perhaps. But this old-fashioned history drama is fully capable of standing alone. Thoughtful screenplay by James D. Solomon, adapted from a story he wrote with Gregory Bernstein. (123 min.)
See our full review:
The Sundance Kid revisits the Civil War.