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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

High Crimes (review)

My Husband Is Falsely Accused!

EXT. SALVADORAN VILLAGE

SUP. “With Thanks to Stephen Soderbergh”

An El Salvadoran village. Women wail over the bodies of the dead lying in a row in the mud. U.S. MARINES run around. They are BAD. The film is grainy, the color washed out. Director Carl Franklin is SERIOUS.

  • DIRECTOR CARL FRANKLIN
  • I really liked Traffic. I wish the whole movie could look like this, all gritty and hard and real. But Ashley’s stylist put the kibosh on that right away, you better believe.

INT. RIDICULOUSLY LUXURIOUS HOUSE LIKE YOU’LL NEVER LIVE IN, BUT WISH YOU COULD

ASHLEY JUDD and JIM CAVIEZEL are having sex on the couch.

  • ASHLEY
  • Let’s make a baby!
  • JIM
  • Whatever.
  • ASHLEY
  • Life is perfect! I am Everywoman! I am like something out of a magazine! I am a high-powered lawyer! I am a loving and devoted wife to my perfect and adorable husband! Eat your hearts out, girls!
  • JIM
  • You know, something Bad will happen on this couch at the end of the movie, and it’ll make everyone remember this moment right now. *grunt*
  • ASHLEY
  • Oh, irony!

LATER

Jackbooted FBI thugs invade and RUIN Ashley’s perfect life.

  • ASHLEY
  • You jackbooted thugs! My husband is perfect and adorable! You give him back right now!
  • THUG
  • (dragging Jim away in shackles)
  • Here’s a receipt for your husband, lady.
  • ASHLEY
  • My husband is falsely accused!

INT. RIDICULOUSLY LUXURIOUS SUV LIKE YOU’LL NEVER OWN, BUT WISH YOU COULD, IF ONLY THE CRIMINALLY LOW MPG DIDN’T MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE THE OIL COMPANIES’ BITCH

Ashley drives onto an ARMY BASE. Even though her husband is FALSELY ACCUSED and has been UNFAIRLY taken from her and she has probably spent the last week CRYING her eyes out, she looks FABULOUS.

  • ASHLEY
  • This is what an on-call stylist and makeup you can’t buy at the drugstore can do. Eat your hearts out, girls!

INT. ARMY BRIG

Ashley and Jim look at each other through glass with steel mesh running through it. They have shaved Jim’s head. The moment is HEARTBREAKING. One single tear runs down Ashley’s face.

  • ASHLEY
  • You are falsely accused, aren’t you? Please don’t tell me I’m ruining my expensive makeup for nothing.
  • JIM
  • (to himself)
  • Okay, she’s a lawyer, right? So, if I say yes, she’ll help that 12-year-old dimbulb defender they’ve assigned to me and I’ll get outta this dump.
  • (to Ashley)
  • Baby, of course I’m falsely accused. I could never do the things they say I did. I swear. Wait, you don’t know all the tricks they teach Marines, like how to sweat an interrogation and how to create a new persona and sucker a lady lawyer into marrying you, right?
  • ASHLEY
  • Of course not, honey.

LATER

  • AMANDA PEET AND HER VACANT STARE
  • Hi. I’m Ashley’s slutty loser sister. I’m just here to fuck the 12-year-old dimbulb Marine lawyer, m’kay?

The 12-year-old dimbulb Marine lawyer NODS HIS HEAD vigorously.

  • AMANDA PEET AND HER VACANT STARE
  • ‘Kay. See ya later.
  • ASHLEY
  • Have fun, dear. Morgan and I will solve the case on our own.

INT. DUMPY OFFICE

  • MORGAN FREEMAN
  • I’m so embarrassed. Does anyone have any idea how accomplished an actor I am? What the hell am I doing in this John Grisham-does-JAG thing?
  • DIRECTOR CARL FRANKLIN
  • I hear ya, brother. Can you believe I once directed One False Move? That feels like a million years ago.

Ashley ENTERS.

  • ASHLEY
  • My husband is falsely accused! You must help me solve the case!
  • MORGAN
  • Ah, well…
  • (reads from script)
  • …as the wildcard attorney and former Marine who now despises the military, calls my dog my law partner, and rides a badass motorcycle, I’m just your man.
  • (pause)
  • Jesus, I need a drink.

INT. COURTROOM

  • ASHLEY
  • Your honor, my husband is falsely accused!
  • JUDGE
  • That’s what we’re here to determine, Ashley. But since I’m evil and also part of the whole military coverup, I’m unlikely to be of much help to you.

LATER

  • ASHLEY
  • Where were you on the night of August 15, 1923?
  • WITNESS
  • Er, um–
  • ASHLEY
  • Where were you on the morning of February 4, 1876?
  • WITNESS
  • (uncomfortable)
  • Erm…
  • ASHLEY
  • Where did you eat lunch on the afternoon of October 27, 1954?
  • WITNESS
  • Well, now…
  • ASHLEY
  • My husband is falsely accused, isn’t he?
  • JUDGE
  • (to himself)
  • Damn, she’s good.

LATER

  • ASHLEY
  • That went well. It looks like Jim will get off. Still, I’d like to know the truth.
  • MORGAN
  • You can’t handle the truth!
  • DIRECTOR CARL FRANKLIN
  • Sorry, just had to slip that in somewhere. Please shoot me.

INT. FULL-DRESS MILITARY FUNCTION

Ashley ENTERS, wearing a Houtyfroot gown by Emilio Lasagna and 3″ slingback heels by Giorgio Snoot. Even though she has been under enormous stress for the last month and has probably been living on take-out and pizza and M&Ms, she looks FABULOUS.

  • ASHLEY
  • Eat your hearts out, girls.

LATER

  • BRUCE DAVISON
  • In real life, I am quite a nice guy. I have lots of warm and wonderful friends, my wife of 27 years still adores me, and even my kids like me. Plus, I’m kind and generous and contribute lots of my free time to noble and worthy charitable concerns. But everyone thinks I’m a real bastard cuz that’s all I ever play in the movies. Wait, here comes Ashley…
  • ASHLEY
  • My husband is falsely accused, and you’re responsible, you meanie military higher-up type!
  • BRUCE DAVISON
  • Bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Bitch! You’ll never catch me! Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Ashley hands him a PIECE OF DAMNING EVIDENCE.

  • BRUCE DAVISON
  • Bitch! You win!
  • ASHLEY
  • I rock!

INT. MOVIE THEATER

  • AUDIENCE
  • Geez, we’re shocked. There’s no way in hell we thought Ashley would actually win. Silly us.

The audience EXITS.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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