Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Terror's Advocate - It might have been a great novel

First, apologies for the delay in posting this week's review. I did my stand up act at Caroline's on Monday night and didn't see this weeks preview until Tuesday night.

Terror's Advocate is a documentary built around an extended interview with Jaques Verges, a French (half Thai by birth) lawyer who has represented defendants in many high profile political cases. After WWII service in the French resistance, Verges starts his legal career as an anti-colonialist, representing Algerian bombers. He thumbs his nose at the French court and the legitimacy of French rule in Algeria, a blue print for many political trials. By the time this movie is shot, Verges is taking on ruthless, genocidal dictators as clients, and has an ego that keeps him talking, smugly and endlessly, to the camera. Terror's Advocate covers a lot of ground, including some strong indications that Verges was aiding, perhaps even managing, terrorist actions at some points in his unusual career. And then there was his mysterious 7 year disappearance, unexplained to this day. There is material here for a fascinating narrative film with at least two sequels, or an investigative journalism series that runs every week for a year. Director Barbet Schroeder finds great subjects, does some fascinating interviews and strikes glancing blows at a dozen issues that could be headline stories, if only he nailed something down once in a while. As Good As News can appreciate the issues this film raises, but cannot send its readers to sit through over two hours of talking heads and subtitles that seem determined to avoid going anywhere.

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