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The Lesser Evil (1998)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  28 August 1998 (Italy)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 585 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 3 critic

When four young boys decide to go over-board with dealing with two bullies, they believe they can get away with their crime. Years later, new evidence appears and the cops are back on the ... See full summary »

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Title: The Lesser Evil (1998)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Derek Eastman
...
Frank O'Brian
...
Ivan Williams
...
George
...
Young Frank
...
Young Derek
...
Young George
...
Young Ivan
...
Detective Hardaway
...
Detective Smitts
...
Derek's Father
Anne Haney ...
Derek's Mother
Matt Bohling ...
Dying Man
Chris Blackwelder ...
Scully
Matthew Francis ...
Jock #2
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Storyline

When four young boys decide to go over-board with dealing with two bullies, they believe they can get away with their crime. Years later, new evidence appears and the cops are back on the trail to solve the murders. The four - now the owner of a failing lumber company (Colm Feore), a priest (Arliss Howard), a policeman (Tony Goldwyn), and a lawyer (David Paymer) - gather in a remote cabin to discuss what their future actions should be. Told in harrowing flashbacks and with obvious difference of current points-of-view, the men argue out their circumstances. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and pervasive language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 August 1998 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Deras livs misstag  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Movie happens in real time 1998. Twenty two years earlier would be 1976. Chief O'Brian says why would you have comprehensive insurance on a 10 year old car. It was only 6 or 7 years old (because both a 1969 and 1970 Cadillac was used). See more »

Connections

Featured in Party Down: Steve Guttenberg's Birthday (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Well crafted psychological drama
16 February 2000 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

This film was one of the best I've seen of its kind in quite some time. This is a psychological drama about four friends, who 22 years ago unintentionally committed a double homicide and then successfully covered it up. Now the police have discovered one of the bodies and a gun they can link to one of the four. The story unfolds as the friends, who haven't spoken since the event, come together to decide how to handle the situation. Throughout the drama, the story flashes back to the original story when they were teenagers, so you really have two suspenseful interconnected stories unfolding simultaneously.

The film shows the twisted judgments made by desperate men in a crisis situation. It was difficult not to be asking oneself, `What would I do in that situation?' I really only had one plot criticism and that is why did the police not ask about the destroyed TV set? If you see the film, you will know what I mean.

The film was excellent in almost every regard. The story was gripping with numerous plot twists that kept the viewer guessing as to what would happen next, all the way to the end. The portrayals of these frantic characters on the brink of distraction, desperately trying to come up with a solution that would keep them out of jail was riveting. The direction and photography was very good, without the need for special sets or effects.

The acting was terrific. Colm Fiore was outstanding as Derek, the owner of the gun who was being questioned by the police. He plays a character who is simultaneously terrified, despondent, angry and devious and switches back and forth between these states flawlessly. David Paymer gives the best performance I've seen by him to date as the underhanded lawyer trying to shift blame away from himself. Even Tony Goldwyn, who often comes off a little stiff, gave an excellent performance.

The acting by the young cast was also marvelous. It was a commendable job by casting and director David MacKay to find four actors who resembled the older actors so much and still had the talent to play their parts so convincingly. Of these, Marc Worden who played young Ivan was a particualar standout.

MacKay's best accomplishment was his ability to convincingly draw the right emotional mix out of the cast. The hand held flight scenes in the woods were well done and enhanced the dramatic effect. There was one scene with George (David Paymer) brandishing a hand gun that was done with a wide angle lens that was a bit amateurish (it made it look like he was holding a howitzer), but otherwise the camera work was well done with visual perspectives that enhanced the impact of the scenes.

MacKay's weaving of the two stories (past and present) in post production was masterful and kept the film moving at breakneck speed. Just when you needed an explanation to put some present event in context, there was the next flashback, as if the director anticipated the questions the viewer was asking himself.

Overall, this was a taut, well crafted film. It was great to see a low budget independent film with so much entertainment value. I gave it a 9/10. Hunt it down and find it at your local video store. You won't regret it.


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