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Find Me Guilty

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Sydney Lumet
Starring: Vin Diesel, Ron Silver, Peter Dinklage, Alex Rocco, Annabella Sciorra
Released by: Yari Film Group Releasing

In Short: Vin Diesel is terrific as a Joisey mobster on trial in Sydney Lumet's fine, often funny, fact-based courtroom drama.

 

Guilty of Great Satire
Truth is Stranger than Fiction Once Again
By Jenny Peters

Venerable 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.

The 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.

Vin 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 roll on.

What 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!


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