7.7/10
186,183
324 user 76 critic

Primal Fear (1996)

Trailer
2:28 | Trailer
An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

Director:

Gregory Hoblit

Writers:

William Diehl (novel), Steve Shagan (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
954 ( 165)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Gere ... Martin Vail
Laura Linney ... Janet Venable
John Mahoney ... Shaughnessy
Alfre Woodard ... Shoat
Frances McDormand ... Molly
Edward Norton ... Aaron / Roy
Terry O'Quinn ... Yancy
Andre Braugher ... Goodman
Steven Bauer ... Pinero
Joe Spano ... Stenner
Tony Plana ... Martinez
Stanley Anderson ... Rushman
Maura Tierney ... Naomi
Jon Seda ... Alex
Reg Rogers ... Connerman
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Storyline

When a young man, Aaron, is charged with the horrific murder of Archbishop Rushman, hot-shot Chicago lawyer Martin Vail takes on his defense at no charge. Aaron was a homeless street kid before he was taken in by the Archbishop. He's shy and speaks with a stammer. Vail is convinced that Aaron is innocent but after discovering a video that shows Aaron may have had good reason to want the Archbishop dead, he begins to question that conclusion. When Aaron lashes out at the psychologist examining him another personality, Roy, is revealed. With the trial already underway, Vail cannot change Aaron plea and so has to find a way to introduce his client's condition. Aaron has something of a surprise for him as well. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sooner or later a man who wears two faces forgets which one is real. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Casting the role of Aaron/Roy was such a challenge, Richard Gere nearly left the project before Edward Norton came in. See more »

Goofs

(at around 1 min) In opening credits Naomi ties Martin's bow-tie (same as tying your shoes) and does so over the points of his butterfly collar. He turns to the bathroom mirror where he checks it and adjusts the bow-tie, but leaves it holding down the points, and nearly walks out the door. But when he turns with an afterthought the points are instantly positioned correctly. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[while getting dressed as Naomi helps him]
Martin Vail: On my first day of law school, my professor says two things. First was: from this day forward, when your mother tells you she loves you, get a second opinion.
Jack Connerman: [chuckles] And?
Martin Vail: If you want justice, go to a whorehouse. If you wanna get fucked, go to court.
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Connections

Referenced in Unfaithful (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

As Time Goes By
by Herman Hupfeld
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User Reviews

 
Exceptionally good all around
30 April 2013 | by jjnxn-1See all my reviews

If you want to see excellent acting in the service of an involving well told story this is a good place to start. Across the board there is not one weak performance. Gere has one of his very best roles as a fame loving attorney who chases a headline case that is more than he bargained for. He and the Laura Linney spar and parry both in and out of court with wonderful brio, she is his equal even if he is loath to admit it and the actress's personal strong persona fits the role perfectly. In a star making performance Edward Norton grabs his part by the throat and runs with it, a brilliant job and one that marked him as a true talent to watch. Each secondary roles is filled with top drawer character actors-Frances McDormand as an understanding therapist, Maura Tierney and Andre Braugher as Gere's assistants and on and on all deliver quality work. Alfre Woodard deserves special mention as the no nonsense slightly cantankerous judge who tipples a little on the side. She takes what could have been a throwaway part and makes her both memorable and humorous. A little overlong you won't notice so good is the acting and once it gets going the story keeps the interest level high.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

3 April 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Primal Fear See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,871,222, 7 April 1996

Gross USA:

$56,116,183

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$102,616,183
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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