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The Lesser Evil (1998)

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 »







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


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


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 August 1998 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Deras livs misstag  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


A clip from the film is featured in Party Down Season 2 Episode 5. See more »


It is said you can't get in the trunk without the key. The Cadillac has an interior trunk release. See more »


Featured in Route 9 (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Four friends gather to discuss an old crime
5 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Lesser Evil" is a 1998 film starring Colm Feore, David Paymer, Tony Goldwyn and Arliss Howard. It's very well directed by David Mackay, and the script by Jeremy Levine and Steven Schultze is excellent. The film starts at a funeral presided over by a priest (Howard) who then tells the story in flashback. As teenagers, four buddies - Ivan (the priest, played as a young man by Marc Worden), George (Alan Scott/Paymer), Derek (Jonathan Scarfe/Feore) and Frank (Steven Petrarca/Goldwyn) are being crazed, drunken, out of control lunatics in the woods when George (Adam Scott/Paymer grown up) shoots into a car, gravely injuring the driver. The driver has a shotgun on his lap. He also has something else, which is revealed later in the film. The kids become completely hysterical and, as the man isn't dead but seems close to it, they attempt to rush him to a hospital. Then they change their minds and take him back to the woods, where he dies hours later, helped along by one of them when they see police lights.

Twenty years later, the gun that killed the man has surfaced, and the police question its owner, Derek (Feore), who has called them all together. George has become an attorney, Frank a police officer, Ivan a priest, and Derek's business is failing. He has made a mess of talking to the police and is a wreck. Ivan thinks they should go to the police and tell them what happened all those years ago, though they had all made a pact to protect George and keep quiet. Then they realize that George has been getting everything on tape and that Frank has been keeping a big secret from them all these years.

Fascinating story of the ramifications of guilt even after "getting away" with something and how guilt molded the lives and personalities of each man and changed their relationships with one another. In that way, it's a tiny bit like "Mystic River." With Colm Feore in it, the acting can be nothing less than spectacular. He is one of my favorite actors, having seen in perform at Stratford in Canada several times. The leads are all excellent, and the young men who play them as teens are superb.

There's a twist at the end. You won't want to miss this superlative drama that could only come from an independent filmmaker, as Hollywood is too busy with cartoon characters and blowing up things.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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