Courtroom dramas are crowd pleasers. Their structure makes it easy to put together a dramatic story that holds your attention. However, because of that, they can be indistinguishable from each other. Not all of them can have a “You can't handle the truth” outburst. The trick is to find a way to stand out. For me, the way that Marshall set itself apart was in the dichotomous relationship between it's two protagonists.
Marshall focuses on one of the cases of Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman), an African American lawyer who at the time was the only lawyer for the NAACP. He traveled the country representing black men who were believed to have been accused of crime because of their race. This fight brought him to the defense of Joseph Spell, a black man accused of raping a white woman. He teams up with local Jewish lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad).
Here's where we get the dichotomy. Marshall is a well polished and confident criminal lawyer, enthusiastic to take on this case. Friedman is a lowly insurance lawyer, who prefers to base his cases on technicalities over arguments, who is very reluctant to assist and intends to only sign on as a formality. However, when the presiding judge rules that Marshall is not allowed to speak in Court, Friedman has to step up and take the lead, at least visibly while Marshall um marshalls him in the background. Two opposite men in roles opposite of what they want. Made for a truly interesting dynamic.
The case itself was fascinating, as they tend to be in this genre. I was certainly with it the whole way through. Our two leads were played to perfection. Boseman stands out more and more as a true Hollywood leading man and Gad continues to be the heart of the silver screen.
My one concern is that this movie won't really prove to be too memorable (not only because it opened in an over crowded weekend). And that sucks because Thurgood Marshall is a historic figure that deserves to be celebrated. He got a fantastic actor to play him, and he got a decent screen play, but he simply deserves more.
Marshall – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n