A Case for Murder

(Duncan Gibbins, USA, 1993)


A Case for Murder presents a case of filmmaking-by-formula in a populist context – specifically, the genre of the legal drama which has emerged in force since the success of Presumed Innocent (1990).

The elements of this genre fall into place like clockwork: stolen moments of passion in the workplace after hours with an intruder watching; sudden outbursts of murderous threat in the elevator and carpark; bravura courtroom displays by a young lawyer (Peter Berg) who is a firebrand but also a patsy; possible corruption infesting an apparently upright law firm.

This example of the formula is at least a little more exciting than the much higher-budgeted The Firm (1993), since director Duncan Gibbins (Eve of Destruction [1991]), who died in 1993, knew a thing or two about how to make a story intriguing on a number of stylistic levels.

Although Berg is technically the hero of the piece, the name above the title is Jennifer Grey, who plays his fiery, righteous assistant.

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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