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A case of correct casting

BARADWAJ RANGAN
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A scene from ‘The Lincoln Lawyer'.
A scene from ‘The Lincoln Lawyer'.

The Lincoln Lawyer (English)

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe

Director: Brad Furman

Just what kind of man is Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) in The Lincoln Lawyer that his description invokes another, more famous lawyer? Mere minutes into Brad Furman's legal drama, preconceived notions are swept aside by the sight of him being chauffeured around LA in his eponymous Lincoln.

His office, for all practical purposes, is his car — hence the title. And he's nothing like the most illustrious American President.

He's so unapologetically crooked his licence plates proclaim NTGUILTY, presumably because AMBLNCECHASER wouldn't fit.

Haller is the kind of shyster who knows the bailiffs, warders, prisoners, men on the street — he knows, in short, how to grease the system with greenbacks. An unkempt William H. Macy, looking like a 1960s rock star gone to seed, plays Paul Drake to McConaughey's Perry Mason.

There's a nominal Della Street in Haller's secretary, but Marisa Tomei, as his ex-wife who's still on exceedingly good terms with him, could just as easily lay claim to that part.

Ryan Phillippe is the rich client who insists that he's innocent till his face is as blue as his blood. And Josh Lucas fills out the cast as the public prosecutor, McConaughey's amiable adversary.

If nothing else, The Lincoln Lawyer is Exhibit A in how correct casting can reshape ancient mystery-solving archetypes into living, breathing characters of the present day.

BARADWAJ RANGAN

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