Since this week it appears I am taking on a U.K. flavor for my reviews, I decided to throw one more British drama review ripped straight from their local tele programs. This one involves a lawyer who turns into a judge and dons the infamous powdered wig. To my shock, it isn’t even labeled as a comedy, so why am I already laughing? Well, before I go mad as a hatter, let’s proceed forth with The Guilty. We will see if this judge is a cheeky bugger or a wanker. I’m guessing on the latter.
Steven Vey (played by Michael Kitchen)is quite the lawyer in England. He wins case after case and he is surely a lock to be the youngest person to ever be asked to be a judge. One night after a big win, he chats up a conversation with his new secretary, Nicky (played by Caroline Catz). They end up having dinner together and go back to her place for a midnight cup of joe. One tiny fact might be important at this juncture, Mr. Vey is very married. That cheeky bugger.
Steven starts to kiss the young secretary and she protests. Nicky tries to call him a cab as Mr. Vey is very drunk by this point. However, that doesn’t work and soon the lawyer is going right past the no and not caring about the consequences. Indiscretion occurs and afterwards when Steven realizes what happens, Nicky yells at him to leave. Later on, the secretary’s roommate Tanya (played by Carol Starks) finds Nicky crying in the shower, fully clothed.
The story shifts, Eddy Doyle (played by Sean Gallagher) is getting out of jail. He’s been in jail for nicking cars as it turns out. He’s picked up in a stolen car nevertheless by two of his kin, Leo (played by Andrew Tiernan)and Tommy (played by Lee Ross) and they proceed to go rob a liquor store and make a successful getaway. Eddy tells Leo he does not want that life anymore and wants something honest. He decides to try his hand at rigging but he’ll need a passport for that.
Eddy’s mom, Maddy (played by Marian McLoughlin)is reluctant to give the birth certificate Eddy needs to him but she does in an envelope and he leaves. Meanwhile, Tayna tells Nicky to go to the police but she resists. The next day at work, we find out that Steven Vey is asked to be the judge he always wanted to be. While he considers, he tells his right hand Cliff (played by Cliff Parisi) to fire Nicky for her attitude since she came back. Cliff tells Nicky she’s been fired with pay and the young secretary turns over her desk and leaves.
Eddy opens his birth certificate and finds out that the father’s side is blank. It turns out that the man who raised him, Martin Doyle (played by Paul Kember) is not his father. His mum tells him that he wants no real part of his father. Eddy’s real father is a man who would soon step on his own son if it meant fortune and recognition. Eddy doesn’t care and Maddy is again forced to reveal the information to him with a last known address.
Nicky wants Steven to pay for what he’s done and confronts him one night. He tells her that it is simply a matter of her word against his. But Nicky thinks that Steven should resign for committing rape and if he doesn’t do so, she will go to the police. All parties introduced so far have a story and soon all of their lives will become intertwined in a way nobody could think imaginable. Everybody’s life would become changed, some for the better and some unfortunately for the worse. And the guilty? Well, they don’t always get punished.
The Guilty is really a lovely thriller. It has a strong cast of characters and they all perform their parts (no matter how small) quite brilliantly. Kitchen arguably throws in the best performance with a fine turn by both Carol Starks and Lee Ross to name just a few. The show does a wonderful job of building up the intrigue at every turn and by the end of the first disc, one could practically be pushed to the edge of their seat.
Until you get to the second disc. The movie is still certainly clever and there are more than enough turns to keep you going until the final curtain but it starts to miss that timing it had in the first hour and a half. It drags and then throws out the finale where I’m not sure too many people will happy at the outcome. It isn’t all terrible but it almost seems that they spun a wheel to look for possible endings and found one. Sure, it isn’t typical, but at least I can still feel that I’ve had quite the satisfactory experience.
The video as expected is the 1.33:1 fullscreen ratio. This mini-series came from the 1990’s and aired on public television. Video quality isn’t exactly a strong suite here. Colors are murky and there is a lot of grain which is disappointing. Darks are plentiful in this movie and none too kind to any detail that we hope or expect out of the production. Yes, you can get through the mini-series with your eyes intact, but it won’t do you any favors either.
The audio is presented in 2.0 English Dolby Digital Stereo. Audio is pretty rough too. Volume is fairly low to begin with. Add that in with the strong English accents and except those who are used to such situations will undoubtedly miss a few words here and there. Music isn’t half bad and actually uses both of the speakers and some sound effects are okay. But there isn’t too much to be happy about in the audio department for the majority of us who find it hard to be attentive for 3 hours straight. English SDH subs are also included which is actually a good idea in this case.
- Automatic Trailers: Acorn Media, Trial & Retribution, and Foyle’s War.
- Cast Filmographies: Here are some bios of the stars of this production. Also included in this meager extras section is the trailer which is barely worth a mention.
As America loves to do, this movie was remade at the turn of the century and starred Bill Pullman in the lead role. Names were changed but the plot was the beeping same. The Kitchen’s version of the Guilty is a fine movie stacked with great acting even if the last hour didn’t exactly go as planned. It still had enough twists and turns to create solid drama and at the end of the day, that’s all you can really ask for.
Unfortunately for those who love this mini-series, the discs are less than kind. It is spread over two discs that feature no discernible extras, mediocre audio, okay video and housed in a 2-disc eco case. (At least the slip cover is well made). It is unfortunate treatment for a pretty decent little thriller. I do recommend this movie as a solid rental or perhaps bought on the cheap. But it is also the kind of movie that I think few will decide to rewatch over and over again. Enjoy it for what it is and let the guilty sort out the rest.