webnexttech | Presumed Innocent review: Jake Gyllenhaal gives a predictably unpredictable performance in Apple’s legal thriller, it’s the perfect summer potboiler
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Jake Gyllenhaal plays a deceitful lawyer being tried for the murder of his mistress in Presumed Innocent, Apple’s new limited series adaptation of Scott Turow’s novel of the same name. The book was previously adapted into a blockbuster film starring Harrison Ford in the central role — incidentally, it’s the second Apple remake of a Ford movie, after The Mosquito Coast some years ago. Directed by Alan J Pakula, the film adaptation of Presumed Innocent was indifferent to the gender politics that are so critical to this story about infidelity and obsession, but series creator David E Kelley appears to be more interested in what happens behind closed doors than what happens in full view of the public. Kelley most recently skewered the idea of masculinity in A Man in Full, a Trump satire starring Jeff Daniels as a powerbroker who found his ego being attacked from all sides by a revolving door of adversaries. Gyllenhaal’s deputy district attorney Rusty Sabich has his own set of nemeses to deal with in Presumed Innocent. When we first meet him, he appears to be living the ideal life of a privileged white male — he’s wealthy, influential, and has a loving family. Sure, a couple of rivals are snipping at his heels, hungry for his job, but it’s nothing that he hasn’t handled before. When a co-worker named Carolyn is found brutally murdered one day, however, the skeletons come tumbling out of his cavernous closet. Also read – Baby Reindeer review: One of the best shows of the year so far, the heart-wrenching thriller continues Netflix’s tremendous 2024 It is revealed that Rusty was having an affair with Carolyn — she’s played by The Worst Person in the World breakout Renate Reinsve in her English-language debut — but more damningly, was with her the night of the murder. The evidence against him is circumstantial, but incriminating. He was photographed at her house, desperate to reignite their relationship after a brief breakup. His DNA was found all over her apartment, and her inbox was full of his obsessive messages. As a prosecutor, Rusty finds himself in the strange position of knowing exactly what to expect. “If you’re arrested…” his therapist begins — yes, there’s a therapist now — and he cuts her off. “There’s no if,” he says, “I will be arrested.” And so he is. As his lead defence counsel, Rusty immediately hires his former boss Raymond, played by Bill Camp. Raymond is a methodical, no-nonsense veteran who can smell a snake from a mile away. A large part of his arc is devoted to his sudden insecurity about his own instincts; how could Rusty and Carolyn have gotten away with their affair right under his nose? But almost as if to rub salt in his wounds, Rusty discovers that he’s being prosecuted by the same two men who were after his and Raymond’s old jobs — district attorney Nico Della Guardia, played by O-T Fagbenle, and his aide, Tommy Molto, played by Peter Sarsgaard. Each and every male performer on the roster — and this may or may not be a subtextual commentary on the show’s themes — is giving a ridiculously over-the-top performance, the sort that would be easy to mimic. Sarsgaard has always been great at playing slippery little scumbags, but as the pathetic Molto, he’s positively Fredo-esque. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, is the most excitingly unpredictable Hollywood leading man around, aside from perhaps Tom Hardy. There’s no telling where he might take a scene. Granted, he has a tendency to start screaming when he runs out of options, but he’s so well cast here as a man who has told himself so many lies that he no can no longer separate them from the truth. The mystery of who killed Carolyn is engaging in an airport thriller way, but where the new Presumed Innocent soars is in its dissection of an old marriage. We meet Rusty and his wife Barbara, played by Oscar nominee Ruth Negga, after they’ve lived full lives already, and the show smartly avoids dumping exposition about the events and incidents that pushed them into such mysterious complacency. Read more – A Gentleman in Moscow review: Utterly irresistible, the most gloriously entertaining show of the year finds Ewan McGregor in towering form Forget the murder mystery, there’s more fun in trying to uncover why Barbara remains so devoted to Rusty despite his history of disrespect. She also continues to outwardly support him during the trial, and defends his core morality to their children when they raise doubts. Rusty’s scenes with the jealous Tommy, on the other hand, are bursting at the seams with an animosity that somehow remains unspoken despite their tendency to verbally attack each other without much prodding. Such is the strength of the performances here. There’s an unmistakable ‘90s quality to the storytelling — not in a bad way; the pulp thrills are reminiscent of movies like A Time to Kill and Primal Fear — but with an added layer of streaming era slickness, Presumed Innocent is designed to be savoured through the summer. Presumed Innocent Creator – David E Kelley Cast – Jake Gyllenhaal, Ruth Negga, Renate Reinsve, Bill Camp, O-T Fagbenle, Peter Sarsgaard Rating – 4/5

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