Find Me Guilty
by Tony Liccardello
Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
So Vin Diesel can actually act. Who could of guessed that one? His previous film credits are basically all action-flicks with XxX being a huge box-office success. He will be a great action star someday, but he’ll have to stop accepting scripts like The Pacifier (how did that make 113 million dollars?). Even Arnold was well into his career before he made Junior.
Diesel jump-started his career by writing and directing the short film Multi-Facial, which he also starred in. Steven Spielberg was so impressed with Multi-Facial, he cast him in Saving Private Ryan. So you have to give credit when credit is due, and he’s definitely earned some with his latest, “Find Me Guilty”.
Diesel stars as Jack DiNorscio, a New Jersey Mobster. After being convicted on drug charges and serving an undetermined sentence in jail, the government then hands down RICO charges that indict him and about 25 of his closest friends, friends of the ‘family’. DiNorscio is offered a deal in exchange for testimony. After refusing, DiNorscio decides on acting as his own lawyer. He defends himself in what turns out to be the longest mafia trial in U.S history, a span of almost two years.
The film is a court-room dramatic comedy, and it works. It is in good hands with Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, The Verdict, Serpico) who is no stranger to this subject matter. But the real surprise is how good Vin Disel is as Jack DiNorscio. He put on about 25 pounds to play the charismatic mobster. Diesel is just a joy to watch (wait, did I just say that?). The movie cycles between multiple storylines of DiNorscio, the prosecutors, and the other defendants. Either he brushed up on acting or the other actors brushed off on him, because he is genuinely funny in this. He has great comedic timing, line delivery, and everything that an established funny man (Jim Carrey for example) would be expected to bring to that table. Also, the fact that DiNorscio is chubby brings more of a human-like gagster quality to him (since he is a murderous mobster. The story’s strongest sections are the ones that focus on DiNorscio in the courtroom. He hams it up with the jury, has a few intelligent speeches, and causes trouble with the judge. These are all funny sequences, Diesel does very well here.
As the story advances, we see subtitles that inform of us what day the trial is currently on. DiNorscio’s character becomes well fleshed out by the end, but he is really the only main character. There are a heap of lawyers and family members that are indicted. Unfortunately, none of these characters are truly established and only a few have major screen time. There is a really great scene in the middle of the film between DiNorscio and his ex-wife (Annabella Sciorra). Diesel should take future acting lessons from her. You can see why she won an Emmy just by this scene, she’s incredible. The conclusion is very well done even though we know what to expect.
The film does have a few awkward jump-cuts that are very noticeable, even to the average audience member. The film could have benefited from connecting more points, as they seem to have gone from A to G, to cover more ground on the trial. Now I understand why they did this (the trial covered nearly 2 years) but it would have made some of the pacing more effective. This does cause some of the information to muddle together. (They go from Day 4 to Day 53) There is also no real antagonist in the film, no one to really root against.
But most importantly, the story keeps you glued in to the very end. It is based on a true story, and much of the actual court dialogue is used in the film. It isn’t a must see, but it is definitely worth a rental.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Tony Liccardello is a film critic living in Michigan.
Got a problem? E-mail us at email@example.com