“Nothing but the truth..” may be a little hard to accept.
Going into The Whole Truth, starring Keanu Reeves and Renée Zellweger, expectations were high for director Courtney Hunt’s second feature, especially after her breakout with 2008’s Frozen River, which earned Oscar nominations for Melissa Leo’s performance as well as Hunt’s screenplay. But what follows in this 93-minute movie is a flat, mediocre courtroom drama, one you would more than likely glance over while browsing your On Demand.
The film begins in a courtroom, where, spoiler, the majority of the film takes place. After some oddly scripted and monotonous narration (that will continually be heard throughout the film), we are introduced to our storyteller, an attorney named Ramsey (Reeves), who is about to begin a murder trial. Ramsey is set to defend a family friend, Mike (Gabriel Basso), who has been accused of killing his father Boone (Jim Belushi). Mike has not said a word to anyone since the police arrived the day of the murder. Ramsey appears to have his work cut out for him because Mike was found kneeling over his father’s lifeless body and undoubtedly made a confession while the police were there. With Mike’s palm print on the murder weapon, this seems to be a pretty open and closed case- but events becomes more complicated when it’s hinted that Mike is a bit of a crime solving prodigy.
The trial begins and we start to learn more about Boone and his darker side. Boone was not a friendly guy, in fact, some would argue that this adulterer and abusive father should have seen it coming. Mike’s mother, Loretta (Zellweger), goes through the motions of how any mother and abused woman would feel after her husband is murdered by her only son- but it is hard to tell if this Xanax-induced portrayal was intentional or not. The trial drags on as Ramsey’s best defense is to continue to paint Boone as a hurtful man until Mike finally decides to talk. While Mike sits in silence, Ramsey instructs his newly appointed co-counsel, Janelle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to be his “bullshit detector” because “every witness lies” is a motto, Ramsey appears to live by. The film carries on following this format; As a witness testifies we are shown a flashback either matching what the saying or not. These poorly executed flashbacks coupled with the drawn-out and frequent narrations ultimately culminate to a pieced together final act twist in a last ditch effort to thrill.
Verdict: 2 out of 5
Categorizing The Whole Truth as a thriller is incorrect, it is a drama with little suspense. What at first seemed to be a clever way to tell a story turned out to be more of a nuisance, just going through the motions to an eventual end. Everything that was needed for an above average, Grisham-esque courtroom-style drama was there, but it really came down to the writing, which lacked the most. Unfortunately, some of the characters we could have invested in more were simply used as plot devices to move the story along thus making their backstories pointless and them, forgettable… “so help me god.”
The Whole Truth is available various VOD platforms.