Murder on a Sunday Morning Movie Review

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For anyone interested in a real look into the American criminal justice system -- away from the trappings of Hollywood -- this Oscar-winning documentary is an excellent study of a murder trial from start to finish.

The suspect, a black teenager named Brent Butler, is apprehended for shooting a white woman in the face, quickly convicted in the court of public opinion and apparently beaten into signing a confession by the police.

His one defense is public defender Patrick McGuinness, who in one fell swoop dismisses all stereotypes about ineffective and lazy defenders. McGuinness tirelessly investigates the police and prosecution claims -- before long it becomes all too obvious that Butler is totally innocent, having been nabbed simply because he was the most convenient black kid in the area.

The prosecution's unwillingness to accept culpability, even when the obvious is revealed, never ceases to amaze. That the lawyers and cops who perpetrated this conspiracy are still employed is even more shocking.

While Murder on a Sunday Morning has a telling story at its core, it can plod along as McGuinness tediously interviews various witnesses, only to have them tell the same stories again on the stand. While Jean-Xavier de Lestrade deserves a great credit for following this story so diligently, his lack of judiciousness in the editing process slows the film down a lot (10 deleted scenes on the DVD drag it down further, adding little to the experience). While the video production is an obvious cost necessity, the bland interiors and exteriors of Jacksonville, Florida could have used all the help they could get.

In the end, Sunday Morning is a fascinating story held in a merely so-so package.

Aka Un coupable idéal.

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Murder on a Sunday Morning Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2001

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