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Despite Spotty Plotting, 'Fracture' Doesn't Fall Apart

April 25, 2007 – "Fracture" seems an apt title for a movie staring Sir Anthony Hopkins, the master of silver screen deceit, who reigned superb in the Hannibal Lecter movies, fracturing his victims, but never his syntax.
Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, an intellectual genius who owns a giant aeronautics company, a lavish estate in Southern California, talent to spare, and right up to the moment he shoots her point-blank in the face, a young and beautiful trophy wife named Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz).
Crawford has discovered Jennifer is having an affair. So he shoots her. It's a calculated move; nothing spontaneous here.
Among the cops arriving at the crime scene is hostage negotiator Detective Rob Nunally (Billy Burke), the only officer permitted entry to the house. Crawford readily admits to shooting his wife, to Nunnally's surprise, but Nunally is too stunned to pay attention to the confession when he takes one look at Jennifer, and realizes the woman on the floor is/was his lover.
Though billed as a thriller, it is not your conventional edge-of-your-seat story. "The film is neither a whodunit nor a whydunit," says Wesley Morris in the Boston Glove. It is, in part a courtroom drama, where Crawford, after willingly confessing and going to jail, decides, with relish, to represent himself in court, challenging young District Attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling).
Willy is the movie’s favorite kind of lawyer: hotshot. This is a far cry from Gosling's beseeching dope addict in "Half Nelson," which won him an Oscar nomination.
"This one is about to move on to bigger things — a fancy new job at a corporate firm, where he can work alongside the icy dame (Rosamund Pike) who recruited and bedded him," says Morris. "But his 97 percent conviction rate and Ted’s obvious gamesmanship (that the wife’s lover took Ted’s confession nullifies Willy’s entire case) compel him to find a new angle to prosecute."
Beachum finds himself in court prosecuting Crawford and finding himself woefully unprepared for what ensues.
"Spoiler alert: "Crawford walks," says Miriam Di Nunzio in The Chicago Sun-Times. "But the film is only half over. So what happens?
"You'll have to see the film to find out," she says, not willing to be that much of a spoiler. "But I can tell you that Beachum becomes obsessed with Jennifer, staring at her gigantic framed portrait on the wall of her living room (reminiscent of the classic film 'Laura').
"As Jennifer lies in a vegetative state hooked up to machines, Beachum reads Dr. Seuss aloud to her, hoping he can reach his only eyewitness to the crime," Di Nunzio says. "His obsession intensifies as Crawford's arrogance swells at getting away with the perfect crime."
"This is a whopping plot point to swallow," says Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. But Phillips goes on to say the movie has its merits. "Its improbability acts like fingers on the windpipe of the story. I liked 'Fracture' despite this whopper. It looks good, for one thing. Gregory Hoblit (who directed 'Primal Fear') and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau shoot L.A. wisely, honoring both the relentless sunshine and the background smog, as well as the nocturnal atmospherics."
And you have Hopkins and Gosling "slinging ham at each other," says Morris. "They spend their scenes crossing accents. Gosling’s has a backwoods lilt that evokes possums, beer cozies, and spritzes of cheap cologne. Hopkins might be using his native Welsh brogue. Who can say, since to me he doesn’t ever sound the same way twice?
"In any case," Morris concludes, "you needn’t actually see 'Fracture' to know that if the charge is acting that winks, these two are guilty.
It starts Thursday at Market Square East. It runs an hour and 13 minutes, and is rated R for language and some violence.

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