PFS Film Review
12


 

12In 1957, the film 12 Angry Men peered into the inner workings of a hypothetical jury in which an 11-1 vote to convict turns into a 12-0 acquittal because a lone juror insists that the evidence must be reviewed logically rather than allow a rush to judgment. The Russian film 12, directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, takes the same plot and provides a window into life in present-day Russia by providing biographical and temperamental portraits of most of the jurors who represent different social categories and ethnic groups. On trial is a Chechen youth accused of killing his guardian, a Russian soldier who took pity on him when he was orphaned in an attack on his family. In short cuts between jury deliberations, events of the murder are portrayed. Extraordinary acting occurs throughout, as an uneducated taxi driver emerges from blind belief in the guilt of the defendant while others use their occupational skills in picking apart the testimony for the prosecution. Russian society is unveiled as corrupt by the most devious among the jurors. The one selected as foreman (no women were on the jury) holds out, arguing that the youth will live longer in prison that outside if released because the real killers will want to shut him up lest they are fingered and put on trial. For the extraordinary portrait of Russian society today, the Political Film Society has nominated 12 as best exposé of 2009. MH

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