11th Jul2014

‘The Trials of Cate McCall’ Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Kate Beckinsale, James Cromwell, Nick Nolte, Clancy Brown, Mark Pellegrino, David Lyons, Dale Dickey, Brendan Sexton III, Isaiah Washington  | Written and Directed by Karen Moncrieff


Cate McCall (Kate Beckinsale) was once a hotshot lawyer before she put an innocent man away thinking him guilty. Now, she is a recovering alcoholic and on probation and must take on the appeal of a woman wrongly committed of murder so she can win back custody of her daughter and be reinstated to the bar. But can she trust herself to know who is innocent and who is guilty in this case? Can she be the lawyer she once was? Or will it all end in disaster with her falling off the wagon again once and for all?

The Trials of Cate McCall is a courtroom drama which has a lot going on. Lots of little stories lines all surrounding Cate McCall’s life link together nicely as she fights for her client as well as her alcohol addiction, the right to see her child and her own guilt. One of the better points of this film is that it isn’t a ‘hardcore’ lawyer fest, so you don’t need to worry about being bogged down in legal jargon which will leave you trying to guess what is going on. Throughout, it is clear what is happening in terms of the case as it progresses and the other story lines aren’t too much of a strain on the brain either. It is a clear story which raises a lot of interesting questions about guilt and innocence and Kate Beckinsale does a very good job at portraying the lawyer on the edge as she tries to make everything work.

This is a very one sided film on the courtroom front though. One could argue that the film is called The Trials of Cate McCall and therefore focussing entirely on her during the courtroom scenes is completely fine. But the opposing party in the court just sat there, occasionally having a line or two, but they never presented their case or did anything really, allowing Cate to walk all over them. Apart from this though, the film seems very well presented throughout the rest of it and you are definitely lead on an emotional journey as Cate faces off against crooked cops, her daughter’s disdain towards her and her sometimes funny, sometimes emotion fuelled conversations with her AA sponsor Bridges, played by Nick Nolte, which are some of the highlights of the film.

I don’t really think The Trials of Cate McCall deserved the ‘flop’ status it got at the cinema, as it has quite a lot going for it. It is a decent film with very good acting, and if you are into courtroom dramas with a darker more emotional twist then I would definitely recommend it.

The Trials of Cate McCall is out now on DVD and VOD (iTunes, FilmFlex, Blinkbox, LoveFilm, Playstation, XBox, Google Play) courtesy of Solo Media.


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