Primal Fear

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3 1/2

This riveting courtroom drama stars Richard Gere as flamboyant defense attorney, Martin Vail. He volunteers to represent a 19-year-old accused of the violent murder of the beloved Archbishop in Chicago. Martin tells a journalist interviewing him that the only truth he acknowledges is what he tells the jury - in other words, he creates the truth. But representing Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) may just humble this arrogant trial lawyer. From his first interview with Aaron, Martin believes the stuttering, polite, shy young man is not guilty. As the pretrial investigation uncovers a sleazy sex scandal involving the Archbishop, the District Attorney (John Mahoney) warns Martin against making it public. The intrigue becomes more intricate when Martin's ex-girlfriend and former co-worker in the DA's office, Janet Venable (Laura Linney), is selected to represent the state at the trial. Is Martin's client guilty? Will he win back his girl? What is the DA covering up? PRIMAL FEAR keeps you guessing up to its last frame.

PRIMAL FEAR is a good mystery, but its use of a sex scandal within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is malicious. A videotape of the Archbishop directing youngsters in bizarre sexual activity is explicit and disgusting. It includes rear male nudity and female breast nudity, and is the film's only sexual activity. The bloody aftermath of the murder is gruesome but briefly shown. Later, photos of the scene are flashed on screen. A few chase scenes, rough treatment with cuts and bruises take place, but they are not excessive or gratuitous. It's too bad we can't say the same for the offensive language. Sadly, there are 86 obscenities, plus many crudities and regular profanities spoken by heroes and villains alike. On the plus side, Martin does learn a valuable lesson about truth. But Hollywood slams the Catholic Church again and ruins a good story with incessant, repulsive language.

Preview Reviewer: May Draughon
Paramount Communications, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (16) times - Mild 7, Moderate 9

Obscene Language: Many (86) times - F-word 57, s-word 22, other 7

Profanity: Many (21) times - Regular

Violence: Few times - Moderate and Severe (gruesome murder scene with bloody knife wounds; chases, rough treatment, some fighting)

Sex: Once (video showing unconventional group sex)

Nudity: Once (video with female breast nudity and rear male nudity)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several crude references to sex

Drugs: Few times (cigarette smoking, drinking in bars)

Other: Catholic Church attacked through sex scandal, unethical business deals implied

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

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