Wednesday, July 6, 2011
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, THE
(October 1997, U.S.)
You've heard me say it before and I'll say it again now - Al Pacino is my favorite actor of all time and nothing puts a big smile on my face or gets my blood pumping more than when he starts to yell on screen. While I still maintain that AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (1979) is my favorite Pacino film, it's a film like THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE that really sets his twisted style in motion. Back in 1987, when I saw Jack Nicholson play the Devil in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, I was convinced he had nailed the idea of the character down cold and hard. Not that I'm saying Pacino has done it better, but at the very least on an equal level with his own famous persona to give the Devil a side that's a whole lot of fun to experience.
So, we have the great Al Pacino playing the Devil named John Milton (a tribute to Milton who wrote "Paradise Lost"). And in this film, the Devil is none other than...(drum roll)...A LAWYER! Now I'm sure we've all heard enough tastleless lawyer jokes in our time, but to insinuate that lawyers and the law they practice is Satan's own will...well, shit, that's just fucking brilliant in my opinion! The Devil equals lawyers...I mean why not! And with any story about the Devil, it's only cliche that we also have the story of a (seemingly) innocent soul whom He'll seduce and corrupt. That soul is Kevin Lomax (played by Keanu Reeves), a trial lawyer who makes his living by getting the guilty off the hook and somehow seems to be able to live with himself. But right now he's just a small time guy in Gainsville, Florida. Deep in the bowels of New York City is the great big law firm Milton, Chadwick & Waters that promises the seduction of money, recognition, respect, trial acquittals and even the hottest women. It's all there for the taking if you freely surrender to it and are willing to give up not only your soul, but the woman you love, too. Kevin's wife Mary Ann (played by Charlize Theron) is beautiful and energetic, but she's clearly not part of the overall plan that Milton has in mind. So very slowly, she's driven mad to the point of her own suicide to make way for Kevin ultimate merger with his own half-sister (a woman he's desired from their first meeting) so Milton can have the satanic family he's always wanted. Oh, and I might add that poor Kevin suffers from what I like to refer to as the "Darth Vader syndrome" in that the worst guy possible turns out to be his father. You figure it out.
So what's the clear message in this film? Lawyers are the Devil? Granted. Lawyers should stop getting the scum of the Earth acquitted so they're not roaming the streets again? Granted even more. Love and honor your wife and don't become obssessed by your career? That's up to you. The message in the film may be obvious, but I highly doubt it'll ever be respected or adhered to. Lawyers are who they are, love them or hate them. But the prospect of the law and satanism in the hands of Al Pacino are just too damn delicious to ignore. The fun is there on the screen, so enjoy it to the fullest, my friends!
Favorite line or dialogue:
John Milton: "Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does He do, I swear for His own amusement, his own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow. Ahaha. And while you're jumpin' from one foot to the next, what is he doing? He's laughin' His sick, fuckin' ass off! He's a tight-ass! He's a SADIST! He's an absentee landlord! Worship that? NEVER!"
Kevin Lomax: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven", is that it?"
John: "Why not? I'm here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began. I've nurtured every sensation man's been inspired to have. I cared about what he wanted and I never judged him. Why? Because I never rejected him. In spite of all his imperfections, I'm a fan of man! I'm a humanist. Maybe the last humanist. Who, in their right mind Kevin, could possibly deny the twentieth century was entirely mine? All of it, Kevin! All of it! Mine! I'm peakin', Kevin. It's my time now. It's our time."