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Published Februray 25th, 2015
Dark and Thought-Provoking Film 'The Verdict' Opens Feb. 27 in Orinda
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This month in Orinda, the International Film Showcase presents "The Verdict" - a courtroom drama from Belgium not for the faint of heart. The film deftly raises issues about the legislative system, the power of individuals and of grief.
Luc Segers is a successful executive, happy husband and father. But an evening stop at a gas station abruptly shatters his life. His wife is attacked and killed by Kenny De Groot, who beats Segers unconscious. Segers' young daughter also dies at the scene. The murderer is quickly found and incarcerated, but due to a procedural mistake the charges are dismissed and the man is released. After awaking from a coma, Segers takes justice into his own hands and is now the guilty party, on trial for murder.
The senseless acts of violence at the beginning of the film may be difficult to watch, but the brutality is a necessary dynamic of the story and does not continue for the remainder of the film.
The bulk of the movie centers on the trial. Writer/director Jan Verheyen takes his time developing the characters before reaching the courthouse. Segers is a good man who played by the book and who collapses when justice eludes him. His lawyer, a veteran, is tough, but his heart is in the right place. De Groot's young female lawyer is also interesting, ambitious and sharp.
When the trial begins, the focus is not about whether vigilantism is right or wrong, but is about what to do with a justice system designed in such a way that terrible individuals can fall through the legal cracks.
The tone of the movie is measured and precise, without caricature; the heartfelt performance by Koen De Bouw as Segers has a lot to do with it. The actor carries the despair and tension of the broken man with depth, but without excessive pathos. As he confronts the judicial system, the audience understands his motivations, but the movie still presents a balanced perspective about justice in a civilized world where the law must prevail over one's desire for revenge.
The movie will open Feb. 27 at the Orinda Theatre and will run for a full week. The International Film Showcase movies are often presented in the venue's smaller theater and can quickly sell out, so arrive early. For information, visit http://internationalshowcase.org.


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