William Bindley's debut feature aspires to the John Grisham league of legal thriller but, with a pedestrian plot and a lack of sustained suspense, JUDICIAL CONSENT falls well short. It was released direct to home video after some 1994 festival showings.
Her marriage on the rocks, Judge Gwen Warwick (Bonnie Bedelia) begins an illicit affair with a young library clerk, Martin (Billy Wirth). Her jealous husband Alan (Will Patton) knows Gwen is cheating, but suspects that her lover is attorney Charles Mayron (Dabney Coleman), Gwen's friend and
colleague. Charles is found murdered, and one of his many lovers is arrested for the crime. Gwen presides over the case, and discovers that evidence planted at the crime scene links her to the murder. She assumes that her husband has framed her, but then she learns that Martin is the one who set
her up. She brings the police to Martin's loft, but he has disappeared. Knowing that her arrest is imminent, Gwen frantically researches her past cases to discover Martin's identity and motive. She learns that she had sentenced Martin's father to life imprisonment. As Gwen tries to find the murder
weapon and prove her innocence, Martin returns. Rather than kill Gwen, he wants to see her imprisoned, like his father. But in a scuffle in Gwen's attic, Martin is killed.
Bedelia gives an engaging performance, but her interpretation of the central character may be the film's fatal flaw. It is hard to believe that a woman as intelligent and accomplished as Gwen would fall into Martin's trap. Wirth is effective as the mysterious Martin. Lisa Blount is strong as the
ambitious DA briefly suspected of the murder. Coleman, Patton and Kevin McCarthy make the best of underdeveloped characters. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: William Bindley's debut feature aspires to the John Grisham league of legal thriller but, with a pedestrian plot and a lack of sustained suspense, JUDICIAL CONSENT falls well short. It was released direct to home video after some 1994 festival showings. H… (more)