The Whole Truth (2016): A Bland Courtroom Thriller with Zellweger’s Stellar Performance

Directed by: Courney Hunt | Written by: Nicholas Kazan | Starring: Keanu Reeves, Reneè Zellweger, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jim Belushi, Gabriel Basso | Edited by: Kate Williams | Production Company Atlas Entertainment, Likely Story, Merced Media Partner, Palmstar Media | Distributed by: Lionsgate Premier

5.7/10

We are early introduced to our main character, Louisiana crime lawyer Richard Ramsay (Keanu Reeves), who is now defending his old friends’s son, 17 years-old Mike Lassiter (Gabriel Basso). Mike was accused of killing his own abusive father, Boone Lassiter (Jim Belushi). Ramsay was assisted by the young Janelle Brady (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is also daughter of his old companion. Ramsay is so sure he could win the trial, and free Mike from his charge. His only obstacle is that Mike refused to talk to anyone, including Ramsay as his lawyer.

During the trial, almost all witness’ testimonials support the allegation that Mike did kill his father, due to Boone’s abusive behavior towards Loretta (Reneè Zellweger), Boone’s widow and also Mike’s mother. Ramsay, along with Janelle, works their best to free Mike from the accusation. They see opportunity when the prosecutor finally calls Loretta to testify, and her disclosure of Boone’s abusive behavior finally starts to reveal. However, when Mike decides he wants to testify, which Ramsay has objection towards it, the whole story starts to build themselves.

Led by Law and Order: Special Victim Unit’s director Courney Hunt, who has a law degree, I was quite expecting for a John Grisham-esque storyline. That expectation was enlarged by the cast of Keanu Reeves, which I thought would bring back his Devil’s Advocate’s persona. Sadly, that expectation wasn’t really match the reality.  The movie feels boring, bland with no clear explanation to the whole truth as the title implies. Even the twist and the conclusion at the very end feel lame and yawning. 

Keanu Reeves plays like a wooden doll lawyer, nearly no expression, nor the passion. He looks like he had been nervous all the time, despite the fact that his persona dominates the whole trial whenever he stands to speak. Miss Mbatha-Raw looks dashing, but she got almost no chance to develop her character. She, at the end, just looks like a platonic companion to Reeves’ wooden and dominating character. The only good performance came from trio Jim Belushi, Reneè Zellweger and Gabriel Basso who successfully convince us that their family is troublesome. Reneè Zellweger herself did a stellar performance as a survivor of abusive marriage, as weak, vulnerable and as pathetic as she could.

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