12

In many respects, Nikita Mikhalkov's 12 resembles a musical jam based on a familiar riff -- in fact, if anything, it reminds one of what the Allman Brothers did with Donovan's "There Is a Mountain" on their "Mountain Jam." Mikhalkov (who also plays a restrained but pivotal role in the movie) has taken Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Men -- which started life as...read more

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Reviewed by Bruce Eder
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In many respects, Nikita Mikhalkov's 12 resembles a musical jam based on a familiar riff -- in fact, if anything, it reminds one of what the Allman Brothers did with Donovan's "There Is a Mountain" on their "Mountain Jam." Mikhalkov (who also plays a restrained but pivotal role in the movie) has taken Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Men -- which started life as a live television drama on Studio One, about American perceptions and prejudices of the mid-'50s -- and transposed it with a superb cast into an extended exploration of truth and justice as it exists in Russia in the early 21st century. Mikhalkov, who staged the original before pursuing this filmed variation, has deconstructed Rose's original (best known for the 1957 screen adaptation by Sidney Lumet, starring and produced by Henry Fonda) and reassembled it in fiercely cinematic terms. Any trace of the stage- and television-bound original is gone, although it does obliquely acknowledge its American origins in one part of the script, and also in one of the few major departures of fact in the script (Russian juries don't need to have unanimous verdicts). He's assembled a killer cast, of which the most outstanding members are Sergei Garmash as a racist cab driver, Valentin Gaft as an aging Jewish descendant of Holocaust survivors, and Sergei Gazarov as a surgeon whose multifaceted relationship to knives is pivotal to the plot. The movie unfolds at a pace that is more leisurely than it actually feels -- Mikhalkov's intercutting of past and present events in different settings makes this a much livelier cinematic experience than one would expect from a courtroom drama; and the only down side of that structure is that it makes it more difficult to appreciate the contribution of Apti Magamayev as the accused, a performance that manages to evoke sympathy despite his having virtually no onscreen dialogue. The only other problem with the movie -- which, after a sudden, even more dire (and unexpected) turn near its denouement, offers some hope of redemption -- is its somber depiction of the Russian justice system (which is, in reality, even more loaded against what most Americans would regard as fairness and truth than the film depicts).

<i style="">Homecoming</i>, <i style="">When They See Us</i>, <i style="">Tidying Up with Marie Kondo</i>, <i style="">Stranger Things 3</i>

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