Lately, I haven’t had the time to go out to the theater and see a movie, so I decided to write about what might be my favorite movie of all time, Primal Fear. Recently, I was talking with one of my roommates about movies in general. I had just watched the film Zodiac, and as we were talking about that movie, we ended going on a tangent and getting into a discussion about some of our favorite films. I mentioned some good ones such as Good Will Hunting and The Prestige, and as were wrapping up the conversation he asked me if I had ever seen Primal Fear, which is probably my favorite, and one of which many people I know have not seen or even heard of.
The movie is now twenty years old, and features Richard Gere in his prime and Edward Norton in his first role on screen. Gere plays a well-known and successful defense attorney while Norton plays a young alter boy who is accused of killing his priest. The film has a similar feel to another American classic, A Few Good Men. Both films follow a criminal trial attempting to prove the innocence of the accused, and both are extremely well done.
In the beginning of Primal Fear we see a Aaron, Norton’s character, running away from a church covered in blood. We are led to believe that there is a pretty good chance he may be guilty, but after becoming familiar with Aaron, we start to have some doubts. Norton performance as a young, troubled, and innocent boy is truly incredible, and is even more incredible considering the fact that it was his first feature film. Little by little, the audience starts to think that perhaps Aaron is innocent, and Gere’s performance as the stern and confident lawyer helps us believe they can get the job done.
Gere’s role in the movie is excellent, and is definitely a primary contributor to why I love the movie so much, but it is Norton who steals the show. While it is nearly impossible to compare any role to Heath Ledger’s joker, by the end of the movie, Norton’s role is almost as mesmerizing. I can’t say the performances are equal simply because Ledger’s joker was a revolutionary moment in the movie business. It will forever go down as one of the best performances of all time, but Norton does a phenomenal job in this movie. I don’t want to get too much into the plot because it would involve spoilers, so all I can say is go out and rent or borrow the movie and sit down and watch it. While it may not become your favorite movie ever, I can’t imagine anyone who would say it was not enjoyable.