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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Lincoln Lawyer

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Michael Pena and Matthew McConaughey star in the thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer."
A generally engaging central character, convincingly brought to life by Matthew McConaughey, lends verve to "The Lincoln Lawyer" (Lionsgate). Yet, though vibrant, this thriller is also frequently seamy and includes numerous moral and visual elements that narrowly circumscribe its appropriate audience.

McConaughey plays the titular Los Angeles attorney, Michael "Mick" Haller, a peripatetic defender of petty criminals whose classic Lincoln Continental—license plate: "NTGUILTY"—serves as his traveling office. Though given to ethical corner-cutting, Mick is fundamentally decent, and usually has his clients' best interests at heart.

On the personal side, too, Mick longs to reconcile with his ex-wife, Maggie (Marisa Tomei), a prosecutor with whom he has a young daughter.

When Mick is offered the chance to represent Beverly Hills playboy Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), scion of a powerful real estate dynasty, it seems like an easy step up to the big time. All the more so, since the high-profile case against Louis—he's charged with the attempted murder of a girl he picked up in a singles bar—at first seems quite flimsy.

Clues uncovered by Mick's intrepid investigator—and longtime friend—Frank Levin (William H. Macy), however, soon suggest a murkier scenario.

Driven by McConaughey's kinetic performance, director Brad Furman's adaptation of Michael Connelly's novel makes for a lively drama, both inside the courtroom and beyond.

But its protagonist's occasional scams and eventual resort to borderline vigilantism, his client's libertine lifestyle and—above all—acrid flashbacks detailing violent sexual assaults all mark this whodunit as off-limits for young or casual viewers. Well-grounded adults disposed to take on challenging material, on the other hand, may discern at least a few glints amid the grit.

The film contains considerable explicit violence—including scenes of rape—vigilantism issues, brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, fleeting rear nudity, a half-dozen uses of profanity, a few rough terms and much crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother (August 27), the instructions of Ambrose (December 7) and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Silence is the ability to trust that God is acting, teaching, and using me—even before I perform or after my seeming failures. Silence is the necessary space around things that allows them to develop and flourish without my pushing. God takes it from there.

 
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