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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Worth the time.

8/10
Author: Michael Fitzer (writerproducermike-968-998627)
6 July 2014

While lacking some back story and giving a few "where did that come from?" moments, overall "Common" is a consuming piece of drama. I was sucked in the moment I started watching. The moral and legal implications of the actions portrayed brings several issues to the fore. However, some of the video clips at the very end are, in my opinion, preachy. They could take away from the viewer's ability to make up their own mind about the law as it stands.

Still, as a production, the direction was confident, the cinematography was sublime and the acting, especially that of the two female leads was nothing less than award-worthy.

Highly recommended.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Stirring rebuke of a dubious law

10/10
Author: redban02 from NY
7 April 2015

If you're reading this review, I might assume that you are American, as I am. This movie, obviously, occurs in Britain, and the subject matter(Joint Enterprise Law) is strictly British. Still, I assure you that this foreignness will not hinder your enjoyment or lessen the movie's criticism of the law.

The movie's crux is fairly simple. The protagonist is a 17-year old named Johnjo O'Shea. He drives 3 of his brother's friends to a pizza store, with the sincere belief that they only wanted a pizza. In actuality, however, the trio --- Colin McCabe, Hugo Davies, Kieran Gillespie --- intended to non-fatally confront an enemy, and during the altercation, Kieran Gillespie inexplicably stabs an innocent bystander. Johnjo O'Shea, who waited outside in the car the entire time, drove the trio away. He had no knowledge of the murder until after.

Based on those facts, you would assume that only Kieran Gillespie would be charged with murder because only he wielded the knife, no? There is where you are wrong, and there is where the movie's criticism begins and ends.

Courtesy of the "joint enterprise" law, all four boys get charged with murder, with the frightening prospect of life in jail. I would say more, but I won't spoil.

The movie nicely highlights the injustice of the law. Policemen, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys -- all are frustratingly heartless, devious, or dull in this flick. Joint enterprise becomes glaringly villainous because the viewer feels sympathy towards the protagonist, which arises from his own circumstances as well as the movie's depiction of his mother's worries (well-acted by the beautiful Jodhi May).

If I had one criticism, I wish the movie had been about 30 minutes longer (2 hours) to more fully develop the legal process. But this criticism is minor and clearly insufficient to prevent my conferring a 10 rating.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

powerful, poignant, and all too real

8/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
24 December 2015

"Common" from 2014 sports a strong cast, including Michael Gambon, Michelle Fairley, Nico Mirallegro, Susan Lynch and others in this story about a law on the British books known as Group Enterprise. We have a similar law here though I believe it operates a little differently. If you go into a bank to rob it, and one of your group kills someone, you all get life.

In this story, a young man, Johnjo (Mirallegro) is asked by some friends to drive them to a pizza place for pizza. He does so, and stays in the car while they go in. During an ensuing fight, a young man is murdered. All of them are arrested, and the Judge wants to try them under Group Enterprise. Johnjo's attorney argues that he wasn't even in the pizza place, but the Judge (Gambon) refuses to consider the boy's innocence.

This is a story about how the law works, and frankly, it makes the law look pretty shabby. Which, in my opinion, it is, having had some experience with this type of situation myself.

Johnjo is urged by his parents to go to the police and tell them the truth. He doesn't need a lawyer because he's done nothing. I don't know who puts this into people's heads, Nancy Grace probably, but it's a prevailing thought and it's wrong.

Whether or not you are guilty or innocent, EVERYONE needs a lawyer if they are speaking to the police. Why, you ask. Here's why: here in the U.S. we say anything you say can and will be used against you. They say something similar in England. Read it again. They mean it. The police will twist anything you say, the most extraneous detail, and turn you into an ax murderer.

The second reason is, if you don't have a lawyer, the police can keep you in a room for hours on end until you say you're guilty. Nobody understands how you can plead guilty to something you didn't do. Well, if it's the only way to get out of a room after 16 hours, you'll do it. It's been done.

An attorney would not have allowed this young man to speak to the police, who of course pretended he was doing the right thing and then arrested him on the spot.

In order to wangle a guilty plea out of these people, the threat of Group Enterprise was used. If they would all plead guilty, they would get less time. And that's the way the law gets people to plead guilty when they're not.

So often we read someone has plead guilty and you think, wow, he really did it. It doesn't mean that. It means the person is sick of the harassment, the harassment of friends and family, the constant going to court, so when a deal is offered, they take it.

This film was a good example of what happens when you don't get legal advice, period, and what the law can do to you even if you're not guilty.

I won't tell you how all this works out. The acting is superb, with strong emotional performances throughout from the accused young men and their families.

During the movie, one of the mothers comes to see Johnjo's mother (Jodhi May) and screams at her that if she googles Group Enterprise, she'll see that in order to get the poor and lower middle class out of society, people found guilty of GE get life. At that point, Johnjo is thinking of pleading not guilty.

Sadly, this is true as well.If you have money and influence, as in one case I worked on, the police will put all of their power behind you and make sure that anyone you accuse of anything is put through hell. The law is different for the wealthy and influential. Very different.

In the case I was involved in, the police told someone accused by a political fundraiser of a misdemeanor, that if he did not turn over certain documents to them (with no warrant) they would start talking to him about terrorism. Let's hear it for Homeland Security - the Go Directly to Jail card for anyone you don't happen to like.

I highly recommend people seeing this film. And if you're ever even on the periphery of a crime, get an attorney.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Group Enterprise can be defining!

9/10
Author: lasting1 from usa
26 April 2015

Having raised three boys of my own, I found this movie very interesting and plausible when it comes to young men going on a group-ride for take-out. Most times they do not always communicate their intentions and thoughts as a group, but enjoy the togetherness of adventure. The driver 'Johnjo' is the driver and very naive and stoic as to the wait time in the car as the others go inside. The morale for me and most parents that might watch this, is to instill in our children that you can be a product of the circumstances that may develop in a group venture without your knowledge. The 'Joint Enterprise' legal entrapment they face is they all played a role in a tragic death that occurred in the small take-away restaurant. I loved the two female mother roles and found them so authentic and heart-wrenching. The key for me was the variations of innocence in each of the passengers and after watching the movie you will make your own determination as to it all coming down to being aware of the personalities you hang out with.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Did You See The Politics Here?"

8/10
Author: Sarah Kenny from England
8 October 2015

'Common' is the story of four boys who go out to get pizza and come back suspects to a murder. This premise was more than enough to get me interested, and the film did not disappoint. Not only is Nico Mirallegro absolutely adorable as the innocent and scared character of JohnJo, but the telling of the story - the WHOLE story - is wonderful. You see the aftermath of the murder from every perspective - the mothers of the boys' involved, as well as the mother of the murdered boy. It's impossible to know who to root for. Everyone, maybe? This is just one of those films that leaves you questioning who the real villain is, right up until the very end. I'm one of these people who tries too hard to see the meaning behind a films making, but this time? I was too swept up in the story to really see what all this was about. A real and subtle political message wrapped in a great plot, with amazing actors and everything you could really want from a film.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A surprisingly good low-budget production

7/10
Author: andrelot from Netherlands
16 July 2015

'Common' is a low-budget drama centered around the prosecution of four young men that got involved on a stupid crime by different ways and degrees.

It will then explore difficult choices made by all those involved, who also comprise families and other people, exploring angles around the prosecution of the crime and its wranglings.

The major difference for other typical courtroom dramas is that 'Common' is more concerned on the tensions that arise between co- conspirators.

Acting is decent, and sometimes even good. Editing is also well-done considering the profile of the movie. The end result is pleasant and it does give food for thought regarding a specific controversial feature of the law that is obviously conveyed as negative in the movie.

The major flaw is the absence of any context of how the characters ended up tangled with each other on the dramatic events that trigger the story, beforehand or in flashbacks.

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