J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

DWF ’13: The Advocate


Ray Shekar is no idealist.  He is a lawyer.  He defends guilty monsters all the time, as long as they pay the piper.  His new client can afford his services, but he has trouble reading the Widow Daugherty.  The attorney-client relationship will be pushed and pulled all out of shape in Tamas Harangi’s The Advocate (trailer here), which screens as part of the 2013 edition of Dances with Films in Hollywood, USA.

Considering Shekar’s one hundred percent acquittal rate and the unsavory nature of his customers, he is not likely to be popular with the police.  Nursing a particularly personal grudge, Det. Perkins senses an opportunity for payback when the mouthpiece’s most recent client disappears under mysterious circumstances.  A similar fate seems to have befallen Daugherty’s husband.  When she woke up on their yacht, all that was left of him was a massive pool of blood.

Shekar will pound on the missing body issue, but the constant dribble of embarrassing revelations will complicate his case.  Motivation will not be a problem though.  He is dangerously attracted the Daugherty.  However, he cannot determine to his own satisfaction whether she is guilty or not.

Boy, The Advocate sure loves its flashback sequences, but in fairness, there is a method to their madness.  Granted, the reverse Jagged Edge concept is well worn territory, but at least Harangi revisits it with conviction.  Essentially, Advocate is a lot like the sort of scandal-driven thrillers that often turn up on late night pay cable, except it is surprisingly demur.  Even without a lot of naughty bits, the film still pulls viewers in, almost in spite of our better judgment.

In truth, it is rather good fun to watch Harangi drop one shoe after another.  Nevertheless, there are head-scratchers strewn throughout, starting with the obvious fact Shekar’s Della Street is considerably more attractive than his femme fatale.  Man, that’s just weird. Also, the whole working-out-of-his-house-while-the-office-is-remodeled thing would not inspire a lot of confidence in the real world.  Of course, it is probably easier to get a presentable but not palatial pad with a view on the cheap, rather than an L.A Law office suite.

While not wildly charismatic, Sachin Mehta’s Shekar is convincingly smart and driven, which is certainly a good start.  As his associate and on-the-wagon investigator, Steffinnie Phromanny and Marc Cardiff, respectively, flesh out the film nicely, adding character and credibility.  Unfortunately, the uninspired and uninspiring Kristina Klebe is a conspicuously weak link as Daugherty.

Harangi deserves credit for scrupulously establishing each twist and turn he throws at viewers.  Individually, none is especially shocking, but collectively they are rather impressive.  The multi-ethnic composition of the cast is also aesthetically appealing, as is the lack of fuss the film makes over it.  Oddly entertaining in a B-movie kind of way, The Advocate screens this Saturday (6/8) during Dances with Films ’13 at the Chinese 6 on storied Hollywood Boulevard.

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