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Presumed Innocent

Pakula and Frank Pierson faced a difficult task in adapting Scott Turow's novel. The dense, first-person narrative - told from the perspective of an alleged murderer - has been simplified and tightened, its psychological subtleties jettisoned, the emphasis shifted to legal and forensic investigation. Rusty Sabich (Ford) is a prosecuting attorney whose life is thrown into turmoil after a colleague (Scacchi) is raped and murdered. They had enjoyed a brief affair, and suspicion falls on Sabich, who finds himself hiring a defence attorney (Julia). Even stripped down, the plot provides suspense and intellectual fascination, but the film quickly runs into problems of characterisation. In Turow's novel, the victim is viewed from Sabich's vantage point; here, the emotional distortion has been lost, and her role is merely functional. To a lesser degree, Sabich also loses in the translation, but he's given dimension via his relationship with his tormented, mathematician wife (Bedelia, excellent) and through Ford's earnest intensity. In a welcome return to suspense, Pakula effectively conveys the claustrophobia of domesticity and courtroom procedure.

Release details

Duration: 127 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alan J Pakula
Screenwriter: Alan J Pakula, Frank R Pierson
Cast: Harrison Ford
Brian Dennehy
Raúl Julia
Bonnie Bedelia
Paul Winfield
Greta Scacchi
John Spencer
Joe Grifasi
Tom Mardirosian
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