(Review originally written at 27 July 2010)

This is minimalistic movie making at its very best. I mean as far as movies set in a single room go this is simply the best one out there. Lots of later movies tried to imitate it and attempted to reach the same level of successful and brilliance but none of them have even come close yet.

It also has one of the most simple premises out there. All that the movie is about is 12 jurors trying to decide whether or not the accused in a murder-trial is guilty of the crime or not. So the movie is all talk but sure no bore. It's a movie that is always going and at all times interesting, due to its diverse and rich characters and its simple, yet greatly intriguing concept. I have no illusions about it though that this is also how its like in real life. So even though the movie takes a realistic approach with its story, it's still obviously fiction but at least it's not overwritten or ever exaggerated.

Interesting and most effective thing about the movie is that it starts off with only one guy voting for the accused being not guilty, even though he himself is not at all convinced that he is actually innocent. He only wants to talk about it because he feels like he owes it to the guy, who's life they are deciding about. All are reluctant at first, since it seemed to be a clear and done case but the more elements and proof gets debated about the more doubt arises about his guilt. So slowly opinions start to slide and some of the jurors get set up against each other, due to their different opinions. Its what keeps the movie so interesting to watch and is also what makes the movie a real well flowing well.

It's also brilliantly brought to the screen by director Sidney Lumet, who had never directed a theatrical movie before actually. Even though the movie is set in mostly one room he uses this aspect to the maximum and to the movie its own advantage. It gives the movie a great atmosphere and feel to it. There are some long and dynamic shots, that allow all of the characters to often do their say in a sequences. It gives the characters actually some depth and personality, even though we never get to know all of their names and of course it's not being the type of movie that has the space and time to do some character building. Sidney Lumet really did the most and best with the story and its characters.

It's obviously a character drive movie and in a way also a real great character study. So it also really helps the movie that it has some truly great actors in it. I was a bit worried about Henry Fonda being what was supposed to be the most sympathetic character, also since I was used to seeing Jack Lemmon in that role, in the 1997 remake. But no, Fonda was just surprisingly great and effective in his role. Lee J. Cobb was also really great but by saying that I feel like I'm not given the rest of the cast enough credit. All are simply great in their roles, though it are Fonda and Cobb that stand out, also because they are being the main characters of the movie, that throughout stand opposite to each other with their views and opinions. It's were most of the movie its fireworks comes from.

One great and fantastically effective minimalistic and simplistic movie. Movie-making at its best and purest.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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