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I set out to watch this 6 hour British mini series for one reason: I'm a huge fan of Gerard Butler's. I came away amazed at how really good I thought it was. The mini-series deals with the trial of a Sikh student accused of brutally killing a fellow student (and compelling evidence both for and against). And while it does indeed explore the trial itself, the beauty of this series is the exploration of the jurors and their lives (something rarely done). It takes 7 of the 12 jurors and shows what is going on in their lives (and by proxy, what their lives the last several years must have been like). You have the alcoholic just out of rehab the first morning of the trial (Butler), the single mother with her own "mom" issues, the seminary student torn between his love of God and his love of a woman, the old Catholic woman who is clearly lonely, the man who had lost his fortune a while back and is no longer financially well-off, the woman who is controlled by her ex-military and semi-crippled husband and last the responsible citizen who is pleased and overwhelmed at the duty placed on him (and who has the most clueless in-laws). You have the not-so-nice prosecutor (played admirably by Antony Sher) and the decent defense barrister (played well as always by Derek Jacobi). Almost all the characters are to some degree stereotypes, but it is how the actors portray them and the way they are written--the way these stories unfold--that is so special. These performances are just truly wonderful (notably Butler and the actors portraying the abused wife, the single mom and the duty bound juror) The ultimate outcome of the trial, while important, takes second place to the jurors' outcome and the central question: how difficult is it to reach a decision on guilt or innocence when you can NEVER really know?
Never have you seen such as Gerard Butler portraying Johnny in this film "The Jury". You feel a part of what the character is going through, his turmoil and struggle with being a recovering alcoholic. Gerards performance touched you in ways you could not imagine. Your heart felt for this man and his demons. Mr. Butler was captivating when he performed the scene in which he found out his love interest, Rose was married. You where so awe struck by his pain you could not help but cry for him. This was probably one of the best performances I have ever scene an actor do in any film. If this is what we seen what is there coming? I eagerly wait for Mr. Butler to dazzle us all. Butphan
This was quite an ambitious undertaking; a six part exploration of not only
the dynamics of the jury room but also the effects of the criminal trial on
the lives of jurors, their families, the victim's family and the accused and
The jury here is almost perversely diverse, with everyone from a young single black mother to a trainee priest. We follow seven of the jurors home during adjournments and realise that strains and stresses of the jury box and room aren't the half of it. One unlucky juror has a father-in law from hell who wants in on the case. Another is a recovering alcoholic who is finding it hard to stay on the straight and narrow, despite his invaluable `personal trainer' Juror Rose (Helen McCrory) is unlucky enough to be married to a control freak (she took on jury service to get away from him) and to then get friendly with the alcoholic. Juror Jeremy, a down and out businessman, is thrown by an accidental encounter with the man whose sure fire deal nearly ruined him. The trainee priest is having doubts about his vocation and the old lady he befriends finds out she is seriously ill.
The courtroom scenes on the other hand run pretty smoothly (though there is a surprise witness). We have top leading counsel of course, Anthony Sher for the prosecution and Derek Jacobi for the defence, but their performances are so glossy and professional as to be almost boring. The judge is almost invisible, despite a lot of noise from the gallery.
This brings me to two irritating aspects. This being a `racial' killing (Sikh boy accused of killing white schoolboy bully with ceremonial sword) there is a demonstration by both sides outside the Old Bailey every morning and afternoon. I can't believe the police would allow the jurors to be routinely intimidated in this way (though most of them did seem to have other things on their minds.) Surely there is a back door (or they could have bussed them out). Secondly, the practice here in Australia is to `sequester' the jury members ie cut them off from family and friends and anyone else who might try to nobble them after they retire to consider their verdict. We copied this practice from the English. Surely they still sequester the jury at the Old Bailey?
Technical grizzles aside this was a very watchable show with some nice acting. There are weaknesses in some of the plotlines and there's rather a ham-fisted attempt to leave things up in the air at the end, but the film reveals the value of the jury as an institution even if individual jurors might be pretty quirky. To some extent majority verdicts (which we don't have in NSW) iron out some of these, though the storyline here suggests such verdicts have problems of their own.
In the end the jurors do their job conscientiously to the best of their ability, despite all the distractions. Whether they are right or wrong is hardly the point; they represent humanity in the administration of justice, which would be mighty cold and austere without them.
A very compelling story about a young Seikh man who is charged with murdering a classmate. I enjoyed the relationships the characters formed with each other and how they were brought together for the conclusion of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed Gerry Butler's role as a young man fresh out of rehab struggling to make a new life for himself despite all his difficulties. The ensemble cast draws you into their own personal trials as well as their fight for the truth in the trial they sit for. The story keeps you guessing and even in the end, you still are not sure what is the actual truth. A great British version of the American-types of "Law and Order" and "The Practice" series.
Has anyone mentioned the music score for this? From the first shot of
the courthouse dome, melancholy music perfectly sets the mood for what
The Eastern (or Indian) theme and the drum at the beginning credits is haunting. During the seminary scenes, the mens choral is lovely.
Throughout a woman hums a beautiful, sad melody, through certain transition scenes and always at the opening of a new chapter. Whenever juror, Johnny Donne, is alone this theme emphasizes his loneliness and breaks your heart. A number of times we see Johnny arriving home and walking down a long corridor and opening his door, with this lonely theme playing. His AA prayer also has the music softly in the background.
During the Rose characters arrival back home each time, we see her getting off the elevator and walking into a blinding white light - to give us a jolt of the searing effort to walk back into that house of pain. The orchestra with an oboe(?) featured makes one want to cry.
During the foreman of the juries final scenes of frenzy in the tunnel the Indian song is just perfect - the wail and lament of a man driven to distraction.
And as the jurors all walk down the hill after the burial, the same woman humming the theme music makes for a melancholy finale.
For the performances, the great cinematography, and wonderful music themes, this a rare series from television that is as great as a movie. Gerald Butler as Johnny is a standout - so intense at times you quit breathing. I've forgotten the name of the actor who plays the Foreman of the jury, but he is also outstanding. The whole cast is superb.
A real jewel for anyones collection. 9/10
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A
Instead*Avoid At All Costs
Kudos to ITV for the good idea of this six-parter series,which shows we can do it and that it's not just Hollywood that can make this kind of thing work.
In Britain (and certain other countries) it's considered every working citizens duty to perform 'jury service'.That is,twelve people (men and women usually these days) from completely different walks of life and with presumably no previous experience of the judicial system must come together to decide the fate of a defendant on trial for a crime.In this case,a 15/16 year old Pakistani student has been accused of hacking his classmate to death in a field.It is a very high profile case which has ignited racial hatred between the White/Asian community,and the series cleverly examines not only the opinions of the jurors,but also how this alien and stressful experience affects their lives outside work.
The acting is pretty good stuff.Veteran Derek Jackobi is lively,spirited and ingenuitive as the defence barrister.Plus Anthony Sher is suitably cold and uncompromising as the prosecution.The people on the jury impressively convey the uncertainty and fear that overrides them all.Jack Shepherd is a good character actor,here playing the murdered boy's father,but is given little to do except sit in the courtroom looking tense and agitated.Also,Tim Healy gets to spread his wings and fly in something that isn't another annoying Uno advert.
The ending is something of a cop-out ,with a few unexplained matters not being resolved.But it's all acted with such sincerity and dash,with engaging pace and dialogue to match,that you feel compelled to watch it to the end if only to support British big/small screen productions.***
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This should be a textbook example of an ensemble production. Everybody
is excellent, and some of them are big names, too, such as Derek
Jacobi, Anthony Sher, and (though not so famous at the time) Gerard
Butler, who puts in a memorable performance as a recovering alcoholic.
It also maintains its momentum over six episodes, and I was always keen
to see the next one.
The plot has some weaknesses. The judge seems never to have explained clearly to the jury that you have to find a defendant not guilty if there is not sufficient proof of guilt. There are also inexplicable weaknesses in the evidence, such as absolutely no traces of blood on the defendant. If not, why not? What about DNA? I know this was in the early 2000s, but I would have thought it might have been mentioned. And why was there no clear medical evidence about the boy's shoulder? As for the drain, is it credible that the police, however complacent, would not have searched such an obvious location close to the canal? Also, as another reviewer has mentioned, why did the jury continually have to run the gauntlet of protesters outside the main door of the Old Bailey?
Despite these glaring defects, the acting and the quality of the direction make this well worth seeing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a self-professed Law&Order/police and law procedural junkie. I am
also a BBC-ophile; and though I confess to having found out about this
miniseries because I looked up Gerard Butler's profile, I recognized
many, many of the actors from years of watching Brit cinema and
I would have watched it because of the subject matter. I would happily have watched it because of the magnificent cast. Either reason is enough, but the brilliance and realism of the writing drew me right into the experience as well. I found myself having conversations with the screen during key scenes with several characters.
Derek Jacobi is mesmerizing as the defense QC; Mark Maloney as the jury foreman and Nicholas Farrell as the juror who lost everything playing the market were very effecting; I think, though, that for sheer emotional power that this is Gerard Butler's finest performance to date. I have seen many of his other roles and he's very fine, but this role shows more dimension and emotive depth than his usual hero/warriors. Mark Strong and Helen McRory are also splendid as a married couple with problems. I could continue with praise for the entire cast, I didn't see a poor or superfluous performance among them.
I have tried strenuously to avoid spoilers.... I just hate that need to ruin it for the next person! If you love good writing and acting, this is worth the trouble to track it down.
Having now seen parts of this twice, I think that what makes
really great, and gripping, is the character development and
acting. I especially liked the recovering alcoholic and Rose,
all the characters were well developed and real (except,
the judge, the lawyers, and the defendant - but this is about
I am as much against political correctness as the next person, but I don't think that was what this was about. That was part of the background, but not the story. The story was about the people.
I found this series brilliant. The sensitive acting and timing were unusually spectacular. Gerard Butler(Johnnie Donne) was exceptionally convincing as the recovering alcoholic.He has personal experience of this and it must have taken huge courage to play this character as he has admitted that it was a very dark period in his life. Well done Gerry. He gathers belief in himself as the trial progresses and is shown to be the strongest of the jurors and the most factual. He carries a lot of the weight of the series with his perceptive interaction with Derek Jacobi who is in prime form as the defending council. Rose(Helen McCory) is sympathetic and portrays real emotional energy in her delicate handling of the at first fragile Johnnie. All the other characters lent weight and credence to this series I have seldom seen better. Tim Healey lends charm and cheekiness with his practical advice and fatherly treatment of Johnnie. Overall this one could be an anytime any place series as this situation unfortunately still exists. It should be shown again as there is a lot to learn from the doubts and fears of racism and our present day attitudes need redress.
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