• 2007-08-22
  • By Tim Osher

BATTLE OF WITS: Hopkins gives a brilliant performanceas Ted Crawford, a wife-killing, courtroom genius.

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Movies like "Fracture"are something of a raritythese days. It's a taut andwell-constructed thriller inwhich two intelligent charactersgo head to head in abattle of legal wits.In the right corner wehave Ted Crawford(Anthony Hopkins), awealthy structural engineerwith a beautiful wifewho is having a passionateaffair with a detective. Onenight she comes home andCrawford shoots her. Thatshould be the end of thestory since he's clearlyguilty of her murder but itturns out to be just thebeginning.In the left corner wehave Willy Beachum (RyanGosling), a brilliant andambitious public prosecutorwho has just beenoffered a senior positionwith a major legal firm. Hegets handed the Crawfordcase as his final job andnaturally assumes that it'san open and shut affair.

Crawford chooses to representhimself in court andimmediately turns everythingaround. He revealsthat the detective who wasat the murder scene washaving an affair with hiswife and it turns out thatthe gun which wasretrieved as the main pieceof evidence against himhas never been fired. Willyis none too pleased aboutall this as it means that hecan't move into his swankynew office just yet. His professionaland personalpride is at stake, which, asCrawford points out in a"Silence of the Lambs"-style prison interview, ishis weak point.What really sets"Fracture" apart are theexcellent performancesfrom Hopkins and Gosling.Hopkins is as mesmerisingas ever. The merest twitchof his eyes can conveymore than most mainstreamHollywood actorsmanage to convey over thecourse of an entire movie.And Ryan Gosling is provingto be an exceptional talentfollowing his outstandingperformance in "HalfNelson."

"Fracture" is aponderous, languid andrather melancholy moviein which the structure ofthings is intriguinglycalled into question,whether it be the law orhuman relationships.Its one weak point isthat it never reallyexplains why Crawfordwould go to such lengths toincriminate himself andthen absolve himself ofguilt. But Hopkins is sogood in his part that youjust shrug your shouldersand assume that's the kindof guy he is.Anyway, after a summerof mindless blockbusters,it seems churlishto complain about a film inwhich people aren't spinningwebs, flying on surfboardsor fighting giantrobots.

Now showing in Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania.

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