Starring Robin Wright as Mary Surratt, the only woman charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln, and James McAvoy as Surratt’s lawyer, Robert Redford’s courtroom drama The Conspirator bowed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.
Whether or not The Conspirator ultimately garners lots of critical favor, it has no chance of getting into this year’s Oscar race simply because Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions will open it next April.
Written by James D. Solomon (from a story by Solomon and Gregory Bernstein), The Conspirator also features Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Houston, Colm Meaney, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Johnny Simmons, and Toby Kebbell.
Robert Redford’s The Conspirator tells a story I never knew about. It’s also a story that makes for a tedious, only mildly interesting film. Shot like a History Channel special, we have effective performances from the strong cast but the few moments of palpable drama don’t make up for monotonous remainder.
Jordan Raup, The Film Stage.
Even so, once the dry dust of history gets whisked away, “The Conspirator” feels like a television movie. Perhaps because a large part of the story – centering on the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln – takes place in a courtroom, there’s lots of talk and not much action.
… It’s an admirable film, mixing history few people know with several real-life personalities well worth knowing. Unfortunately, viewers for such fare are older and less prone to line up on a first weekend.
Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter.
You don’t have to look too deep into “Conspirator’s” soul to unearth connections to post-Sept. 11 America. Following a national tragedy, protective (but misguided) government officials seek swift retaliation because “the people want that.” McAvoy and Wright do most of the heavy moral lifting between decently staged courtroom sequences, arguing whether the rights of a few should be sacrificed to appease the vengeful demands of many. Redford’s attention to period detail impresses, though his casting decisions [of some of the supporting players] are questionable.
Sean O’Connell, Hollywoodnews.com.
Robert Redford Denies Having Ever Said: “As an actor I wouldn’t like me as a director…”
At a Toronto Film Festival press conference for his latest effort, the historical courtroom drama The Conspirator, Robert Redford, 74, denied ever saying:
a) “As an actor I wouldn’t like me as a director; as a director I wouldn’t like me as an actor.”
b) “All my life I’ve been dogged by guilt because I feel there is this difference between the way I look and the way I feel inside.”
James Adams reports in Toronto’s Globe and Mail that an Italian journalist asked Redford about those two quotes and was twice rebuffed.
About quote #1, Redford remarked, “It sounds crazy … it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Do you have another IMDb quote?” TIFF press conference host Henri Behar asked the journalist.
Apparently, there wasn’t. At least not from that particular journalist.
Note: Both quotes can indeed be found on the IMDb.