Directed by: Sydney Lumet
Silver, Peter Dinklage, Alex Rocco, Annabella
Released by: Yari Film
Short: Vin Diesel is terrific as a
Joisey mobster on trial in Sydney Lumet's
fine, often funny, fact-based courtroom
of Great Satire
Truth is Stranger than Fiction
By Jenny Peters
director Sidney Lumet returns to the courtroom, but with
a completely different tone. From his seminal "12
Angry Men" in 1957 to "The Verdict" more
than twenty years later, Lumet has always known how to
create a taut courtroom drama, with both films scoring
multiple Oscar nominations. With "Find Me Guilty,"
the 81-year-old auteur has shifted gears, telling a fact-based
story that is more hilarious than tense with a central
character you just can't help loving.
film follows the incredible 1987-1988 criminal trial of
the Lucchese family, in which the U.S. government indicted
twenty members of the legendary New Jersey Mafia crew,
including Giacomo "Jackie Dee" DiNorscio (Vin
Diesel). Twenty defendants meant nineteen lawyers, for
DiNorscio chose to defend himself, a move that brought
non-stop comic antics to otherwise deadly serious proceedings,
still the longest mafia trial in U.S. criminal history.
With much of the often unbelievable dialogue
taken from actual court transcripts, "Find Me Guilty"
unfolds as a multi-layered satiric look at our judicial
system and its flaws, as well as an insightful take on
one man's journey through a life of crime, prison stints
and sometimes misplaced family loyalties.
Diesel is terrific in the leading role, hitting just the
right notes of cockiness and charm as a man that could
easily have come off as completely unsympathetic. After
all, he's a career criminal and the only one of the defendants
who is already in jail as the trial begins. Ron Silver
is also in fine form as the judge who begins the trial
with serious disdain for DiNorscio, only to find himself
eventually becoming his supporter as the lengthy proceedings
could have been an extremely dull look at litigation is,
in Lumet's still very capable hands, a lively, often funny
film that reminds us once again that truth is always stranger
than fiction. You just can't make this stuff up!