Burden of Proof (1992)


“You live whatever way you want to. Just don’t forget to live.” – Dixon Hartnell

Number of Times Seen – 1 (15 Mar 2020)

Brief Synopsis – Following his wife’s suicide, attorney Sandy Stern must try and figure out why she committed such an act which seems to have had repercussions on his extended family members who all seem to have dark secrets.

My Take on it – This is a film that I’ve been intrigued to watch for the past 28 years since I’ve always been a big fan of Presumed Innocent (1990) and this film continues the story of one of the main character – Sandy Stern.

Stern was originally played by Raul Julia and in this film is played by Hector Elizondo.

Elizondo does a nice job with the role, but he isn’t able to give off as great a screen presence as Julia did just two years earlier with the same role.

The find is less of a courtroom drama than the other two in the series and relies more on the investigative techniques of the main character.

Unfortunately, the kind of investigation he conducts is far too choppy and doesn’t always make complete sense and that takes away from making this story even more intriguing.

The story and plot are bit too predictable and certain scenes and plot threads feel like connect the dot choices which takes away from any kind of suspense that one would expect here.

The choice to cast Brian Dennehy in this film is problematic because he was also in the previous film, but in each of them he plays completely different characters which adds to the confusing for anyone familiar with both films.

The movie also make s a mistake of trying to make Elizondo’s character seem more appealing to all of the women around him and they all seem to throw themselves at him whether he wants it or not.

His character lacks that kind of real chemistry and that also makes certain scenes feel a bit too much.

The story is far too long and at 3 hours, things feel too stretched for their own good in order to successfully make this a two part miniseries of 90 minutes each since it adds to the confusion of things and makes things even more convoluted than necessary.

Bottom Line – Interesting idea but it drags along too much for its own good. The kind of investigation that the main character conducts throughout the film is a bit choppy and isn’t as intriguing as one would hope. There are parts of the story that are far too predictable and instead of waiting for surprises along the way, it all seems too cookie cutter. Elizondo is fine in the lead role but he lacks the kind of on screen presence that Julia had when he first played this character in Presumed Innocent (1990) two years earlier. Casting Dennehy in a main role here is a bit confusing for those of us familiar with the characters from the previous film because he played a different main role there that is far too different for continuity purposes. The film also tries too hard to make the characters more appealing to one another and the kind of chemistry that the women seem to have with the main character seems a bit too much. The story is a bit too long and gets convoluted along the way which is a shame.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Brian Dennehy also appeared in “Presumed Innocent (1990),” making him the only actor to appear in both films based on Scott Turow’s works. He plays a different character in this film, however. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)

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