12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men ★★★★★

"You're talking about a matter of seconds! Nobody can be that accurate."
"Well, I think that testimony that can put a boy into the electric chair should be that accurate."

Here I am crying just because this film was so undescribably good. I knew it would be amazing after about half an hour and that it was going to be a masterpiece if it stayed that way. And boy, it did.

The titular 12 Angry Men are together in one room talking for 98% of the runtime. I wouldn't even say the film has a lot of dialogue, I would say it consists of dialogue only. I understand that that's not everyone's thing, I myself was a bit hesitant because of that, but once I was into it it didn't bother me at all. And given its high ratings I think most people had that experience. Of course it requires a lot of concentration, but it draws the viewers in so much that that comes naturally. The dialogue was nothing short of amazing from start to finish and contained so many interesting thoughts. I couldn't even decide what quote(s) to put into this review because there were tons of great ones. It was also surprisingly funny from time to time, with exactly the kind of old movie humor I love. Comic relief is not a modern phenomenon, and it's placed so well here.

Since the majority of 12 Angry Men takes place in that one room, the opportunities for cinematography were of course very limited, but I love what they came up with. It was pretty great and definitely very effective. I loved all the dramatic zooms that never seemed overly or unnecessarily dramatic to me. I was an even bigger fan of the opening shots though. After two establishing shots, the third shot of the film was a long take that kept pretending to follow one person but then changed to another one (if that makes any sense, it's hard to describe), and I absolutely loved that.

The cast did a fantastic job in this, and it's such an ensemble piece that I don't even want to talk about specific names here. Pretty much the only real stand-out was Peter Fonda, whom I had just seen in War and Peace, and once again he gave a great performance. I really want to watch more of his movies now. His character stood up against the others and was the one who sparked all the conversations that evolved later, so of course he played an important role. Many of them were actually very critical towards death penalty, which surprised me a bit in a 1950s movie. Positively surprised me, obviously.

I had a feeling that something else was going on under the surface of the main plot early on, and two or three minutes before the film ended I was proven right. Those moments were incredible and so extremely tense, and I was not kidding earlier, it was just so good that I had to cry. I felt like I didn't deserve to watch something this good. What a movie. Please everybody, I beg you, go watch it.

"I beg pardon..."
"I beg pardon? What are you so polite about?"
"For the same reason you are not: it's the way I was brought up."

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