A Time to Kill (1996)

“What is it in us that seeks the truth? Is it our minds or is it our hearts? ” – Jake Brigance

Number of Times Seen – At least 3 times (Theater in ’96, 24 Mar 2005 and 16 Nov 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A young Southern lawyer gets the case of a lifetime when a man murders the two men who raped his daughter

My Take on it – I have been a fan of John Grisham’s writing for over twenty five years and this was actually the second book of his that I had to pleasure to read. (The first was The Firm).

This is one of his best novels, but as with most adaptations, the essence and strength of the story is dulled when adapted for the screen.

In order to make sure I was familiar enough with the novel, I just finished rereading it two weeks ago, so when I watched this film for the third time, I had the novel fresh in my mind the whole time.

I wasn’t the biggest fan both of the other times that I read it because I recalled the novel too well when I watched it.

Many of the great scenes and dialogue of the book are condensed and/or dissolved which takes way from the way the story should be told.

The cats is excellent, but I am somewhat disappointed that they changed things around too much in an attempt to give Sandra Bullock’s character an even larger role than she had in the book.

This was totally unnecessary because it defeats the main purpose of her character appearing when she does.

The story itself is amaizng because it bring sup so many philosophical, moral and ethic issues to keep people busy for days, week, months or even years.

Some of these issues are still debatable twenty plus years after this film was made.

Despite being Grisham’s debut novel and it being one of his best story to date, the adaptation takes too much away from what the original story was trying to do.

Bottom Line – Great story that just doesn’t work as well on the screen as it does on paper. Excellent cast, but in order to headline them all, too much of the book was changed to accommodate star status. The story itself brings us lots of interesting philosophical, ethical and moral questions that still plague the world over two decades after this film was made. Definitely not one of Grisham’s best adaptations despite being one of his best novels.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Donald Sutherland reportedly wanted Lucien Wilbanks to be much more of a radical drunkard. Joel Schumacher wanted a mostly serious drama, and said it would be too much comic relief. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy


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3 thoughts on “A Time to Kill (1996)

  1. I haven’t read the novel, so I only have the film to go on which I’ve seen at least half a dozen times. I loved it and thought it told it’s story wonderfully. Curious about your thoughts on the Sandra Bullock role. Does her suddenly appearing not feel like an out-of-nowhere moment or is it set up pretty well?


  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1996 |

  3. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | Director’s Chair: Joel Schumacher

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