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The Trials Of Cate McCall – Review


Release Date: 5th April 2014
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Cast: Kate Beckinsale - Nick Nolte - James Cromwell - Anna Anissimova - Taye Diggs - Clancy Brown - Isaiah Washington



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Posted July 9, 2014 by

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The Trials Of Cate McCall Review:

Forced to partake in this character study but far from sharing the same voyeuristic pleasures of T.S Eliot, Karen Moncrieff’s courtroom drama invites us to observe the life of Cate McCall (Kate Beckinsale), a hotshot lawyer and a recovering alcoholic.

In order to be reinstated at the bar and regain custody of her daughter, Cate must take on the appeal of Lacey Stubbs (Anna Anissimova); a young woman convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. We spend the majority of this personality portrait trapped inside Cate’s melancholic existence, flitting between the thrill of the courtroom and the crippling tedium of everywhere else.

As she fruitlessly straddles her commitments to work and her unforgiving offspring, Cate learns the dangers of playing fair in a business where honesty is a fickle thing, and all whilst haunted by her past ill judgments.

This meager attempt at a courtroom drama sees a ponytailed Nick Nolte reunite with The Golden Bowl co-star Beckinsale, as he plays Bridges. Dressed up like a refugee hippie out of the swinging 60’s, Bridges is a fellow lawyer and Cate’s only confidant. Providing the damsel in distress with her only moral guidance (not counting her AA meetings), Bridges facilitates Cate’s journey of self-discovery; “if you don’t change, guess what? Nothing changes”, he says in Hollywood’s coarsest voice.

There’s a sound story pulsating at the heart of this drama, and although its dreary pace doesn’t surge often enough to satisfy, Cate has been rendered with enough emotional depth to feel a sense of attachment to the title character.

The Pearl Harbor star offers a touching rendition of a lawyer’s relentless pursuit of the truth and the supporting cast, particularly a focused Nick Nolte and L.A Confidential’s James Cromwell, do well to bolster Trial’s integrity and performance prowess.

There’s something Lincoln Lawyer-esque here in terms of its narrative make-up, but with an underwhelming execution, Trials can only ever aspire to meet the intensity of Furman’s dramatic thriller.

Actress Karen Moncrieff’s third feature as writer/director demonstrates a gilt-edged premise, but its sluggish pace and unfulfilling narrative twists ultimately restrict its cinematic potential.

The Trials of Cate McCall is out on DVD & VOD on 7 July


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Anthony Lowery
Freelance Contributor

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